On the first day of our September Olive Retreat, the question came; Why is wheat so bad? What does all of this plant science have to do with what’s harming us? Intense crossbreeding created significant changes in the amino acids in wheat’s gluten proteins, a potential cause for the 400 percent increase in celiac disease over the past 40 years. Wheat’s gliadin protein has also undergone changes, with what appears to be a dire consequence. Wheat is a form of grass, and as all natural plants, it developed for thousands and thousands of years to protect itself from harmful microbes. When humans started manipulate it the natural wheat grass lost its protection and needs huge amount of pesticides. These harm us too.
The altered gluten molecule with the allergen gliadin seems to be causing all kinds of healthy issues as well as cravings. “Compared to its pre-1960s predecessor, modern gliadin is a potent appetite stimulant,” explains Dr. Davis. “The new gliadin proteins may also account for the explosion in inflammatory diseases we’re seeing.”
There are many alternatives, old natural crops, as spelt and kamut (emmer, einkorn, etc) cultivated for thousands of years, with all its protective husk and shell, but they still have gluten. At our retreats we stay away from gluten all together and use other very nutritious and healthy ‘grains’, which are not grains but actually herbs, or flowers:
Millet was eaten a lot in the UK, Germany and Scandinavia and a Viking staple food, before the wheat took over. It has more protein than most meat and also the components of protein, the amino acids, making it perfect to be eaten in combo with other grains, pulses, or rice. A typical combo in the UK for centuries was vegetable stews with barley and millet. When I studied old food recipes I was surprised they used so much leaves in the cold northern countries, but they knew. Nettles were used in the millet stews.
Other beautiful herbs are amaranth (from Greek meaning unfading flower). They exist in a large biological diversity and we get them in pink, orange, green or red flowers. Now mainly grown in Latin America it’s slowly coming back to us by small farming, which the pace of modern wheat getting discovered as toxic. It was the Aztecs favorite food until the conquistadors made it illegal with quinoa, another nutritious herb or flower that already found its way into healthy peoples kitchen cupboards. Both are high in protein.
Quinoa plantation are found in the Andes. After the Spanish conquest, cultivation of amaranth and quinoa was outlawed, as many of the celebrations involving sacrifices of humans were to the Gods of these crops, while some of the festivities were subsumed into the Christmas celebration. They can be eaten soaked and rinsed, but will then be hard to chew.