Dedicated Since 2019
There are a myriad of reasons why I chose to focus on ancient, heirloom, and old varieties of wheat.
An important thing to know firstly, is that biodiversity, or biological diversity, is the basis of life. Each form of healthy life is an integral leg of biodiversity; each piece decreasing the chance of disease and increasing the stability of the ecosystem.
The first reason I am focusing on ancient strains of wheat is to increase biodiversity, thus stability, of the crop we are so dependent on. The heritage varieties that have been providing health for millennia are being bullied out of the food system by hyper-bred and
modified patented seeds. Even though there is an estimated 1% left, heirloom varieties of wheat are not extinct yet and are making a comeback. These beloved strains still have a chance. There are a handful of people across the country that are taking it into their own hands to rescue these food staples.
I am honored to be one of them.
Currently, wheat is not only the most widely grown crop in the world, but it is virtually all the same variety. Tens of millions of acres of this genetically altered wheat are grown each year. This is alarming because we need many forms of life together for safety and when one strain stands alone like this, it is a huge target for destruction. The Great Famine is a perfect example. Since there was an immense reliance on a single food crop (potatoes) when the crop got infected, a million people lost their life and two million more were forced to flee their country.
The risk of starvation is too great to not do anything about it. There were only thousands of acres involved in “The Great Starvation” case and we have tens of millions of acres of modern wheat on our hands currently. If it becomes targeted, the destruction is hard to even fathom. Beyond the dangers of monocropping, this “common wheat” that feeds most of the world cannot survive and adapt on its own. It requires human intervention to live, which means that humans would have to foresee any attacker- let it be a fungus, plant, or animal- to protect this invented crop’s destruction. No matter which way this is viewed, it is not safe to rely on one source of food this heavily.
Other than increasing biodiversity, ancient strains of wheat also help the health of our ecosystem in other ways. The roots systems reach deeper into the soil, which allow more nutrients to be reached and thus more available to neighboring plants. The root systems being more robust naturally means that there is more plant matter underground. This is great news because plants use carbon from the air to grow. Since plants are made up of about 45% carbon, a lot of carbon from our atmosphere is stored underground in root systems. As most of us know, carbon is an integral part of life, but there is an alarming amount in the atmosphere currently. This is dangerous and the way nature is responding is a hard confirmation. With the natural checks and balances of life, the oceans are absorbing the carbon to do its part in maintaining equilibrium. This is causing the waters to increase in acidity and harm marine life. By planting wheat, especially with no-till methods, the Project is making moves for carbon sequestration.
The third reason I chose to grow real wheat is that I wanted to eat flour and bread again! My doctor informed me that if I wanted to heal from Lyme, I would have to eliminate conventional wheat from my diet, FOREVER. [Even though “conventional wheat” does not sound bad, it is the term that defines chemical dependent, mutated seeds that use intense irrigation, monocropping, and heavy tillage practices]. As a lover of food and as a professional pastry chef, this hit hard. I started researching why wheat was so bad for the human body, and quickly learned that the “wheat” that is referred to as harmful to health is referring to modern strains of wheat, only.
Modern varieties have complex genetics from breeding and crossing, is grown with all the “cides”, and is stripped of the nutritious parts before being ground into flour. This leaves us with a food product that causes leaky gut, digestive issues, and poison exposure. Since chromosomes add together when wheat is bred, the simplest wheat strains to digest are simply the varieties that are the least touched- the oldest varieties. We can see this difference as humans have been easily digesting wheat for thousands of years and just recently began having problems. Ancient strains’ genetic simplicity is the answer for easy digestion. Adding these grains to your diet is a great way to increase health, too, because they carry a plethora of beneficial and diverse micro bacteria that aid in gut health. They are also typically ground whole with the nutrient dense bran and germ still intact.
Ancient and heirloom varieties also taste so amazing with warm, rich, and nutty notes. The only area that is lacking is the accessibility to these strains. I hope with each passing year, the supply increases and more people can start incorporating these whole heirloom grains into their diets, “for a healthier Earth, for a healthier You”.