April 13, 2014

Heirloom Wheat

Can an Heirloom Grain Help Resolve Wheat Allergies?

According to research conducted on the ongoing hybridization of wheat and its effects on human digestion, "we have scientific evidence that indeed, gluten sensitivity not only exists, but is very different from celiac disease." Alessio Fasano, medical director at the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research, explains that wheat sensitivity is on the rise in the United States. One reason may be the continued breeding of wheat to increase production, making it genetically divergent from the wheat consumed two generations ago.

While the gluten-free products industry grows by millions each year, Vermont grain farmers like Ben Gleason continue to cultivate heirloom grains and artisan bakers tirelessly produce crunchy, hearty loaves from them. Cyrus Pringle, named after an Addison County farmer, is a hearty winter wheat strand that has not been hybridized since its initial cultivation in the mid 1800’s.

Could wheat-sensitive people digest Cyrus Pringle bread baked with a traditional French sourdough at Red Hen Baking? Randy George, the bakery’s founder and owner, has high hopes. The Gleasons’ grains are carefully monitored and ground in a stone mill on site to ensure freshness. Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm is so passionate about small-scale heirloom grain production that he wrote a book about it, which was released by Chelsea Green in 2013. in his 33 years of grain growing, Lazor realizes that “true wealth comes from the ability to feed ourselves from the land.”


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