Due to gluten intolerance, I have been gluten free for almost two years and gave up wheat at that time. The opinions in this post are mine only.
I came across an article this morning from The Alternative Daily:
“What’s up with Wheat Really?”
In the article, the writer states:
While there is no doubt that these proteins are responsible for widespread health issues in the grain-dependent Western world, there has until this point been something missing from the equation. The variability of response to wheat in different situations suggests that there must be something else in wheat that is causing health issues in some people. Someone who gets sick from eating bread or pasta in the United States, for example, may not have any adverse effects from eating bread or pasta in France or Italy. Often people who have developed gluten sensitivity to conventional grain-based products may suffer no ill effects when they switch to organic wheat. There is even variability within America, with different wheat products causing varying degrees of health problems. Why is that?
He goes on to say:
The answer, unfortunately, is not a very pleasant one. Based on information provided by the US Department of Agriculture, it appears that it is routine practice for American farmers to dump a large dose of Roundup, a broad-spectrum herbicide, on wheat crops a few days before harvest. The active ingredient of Roundup is glyphosate, a toxic chemical that is designed to essentially kill off anything it comes into contact with.
This process of literally bombing wheat crops with Roundup prior to harvest has been shown to increase yields and ensure homogeneity amongst the crop. Exposing wheat to the deadly chemical glyphosate in Roundup causes the wheat to release a burst of seeds before it dies off. Kind of like a last-gasp attempt to give life before the chemical apocalypse hits.
Monsanto, the infamous manufacturer of Roundup, claims that applying it to wheat at over 30 percent kernel moisture causes the plant to absorb Roundup into the kernel, what we would consider to be the grain. Farmers support this method, as it kills off the wheat plant, allowing for an earlier harvest; increases yield; and forces all the wheat in any given field to ripen evenly, ensuring a uniform crop.
So basically, he is stating that the primary reason people are becoming more sensitive to wheat is the spraying of glyphosate onto the crop right before harvest. Let’s examine this hypothesis.
While I certainly don’t condone Monsanto’s slow poisoning of Americans, I am not sure this is the whole picture. Wheat is not the only crop this pesticide is used on.
According to web.mit.edu:
Genetically Modified Food
Roundup Ready crops are crops genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup. Roundup is the brand-name of a herbicide produced by Monsanto. Its active ingredient glyphosate was patented in the 1970s. Roundup is widely used by both people in their backyards and farmers in their fields. Roundup Ready plants are resistant to Roundup, so farmers that plant these seeds must use Roundup to keep other weeds from growing in their fields.
The first Roundup Ready crops were developed in 1996, with the introduction of genetically modified soybeans that are resistant to Roundup. These crops were developed to help farmers control weeds. Because the new crops are resistant to Roundup, the herbicide can be used in the fields to eliminate unwanted foliage. Current Roundup Ready crops include soy, corn, canola, alfalfa, cotton, and sorghum, with wheat under development.
Roundup Ready crop seeds have notoriously been referred to as “terminator seeds.” This is because the crops produced from Roundup Ready seeds are sterile. Each year, farmers must purchase the most recent strain of seed from Monsanto. This means that farmers cannot reuse their best seed. Read more about terminator seeds.
At the time of this article-in 2009, wheat was not yet being treated with Roundup. Does the increase in this pesticide use coincide with the increase in celiac disease? It does seem to be a growing issue. But true celiac disease is not as common as you might think. Some people who claim to have celiac really only have gluten intolerance, and have not been tested. There is a vast difference between the two. I say this because I knew someone who said she had celiac, who would then proceed to eat a pizza. I cannot believe that someone with celiac would honestly put themselves through that.
Celiac disease is an immune system disease, while gluten intolerance is not. Celiac requires testing to prove a diagnosis. I suffer from gluten intolerance. Some people have stopped eating wheat altogether because they think it is unhealthy. It isn’t if you don’t celiac or gluten intolerance. After reading up on exactly what Roundup is used on, I ask you, what is left?
If the theory of this article were true, then there would be a lot of people sensitive to soy, corn, canola, alfalfa, and sorghum. Yes, there are people who are sensitive to one or more of these foods. But there are a lot more who aren’t. Wheat is the big one and the most lucrative. I also think that people who think they are “sensitive” to wheat may actually be sensitive to Fodmaps.
Most of the food in the US is treated with either pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and God knows what else. GMO’s are the norm. Food companies seem to be getting away from these additives. But big agriculture isn’t. Not anytime soon. So where does that leave us?
High carbohydrate gluten free foods are no better for you than their gluten laden counterparts. I have chosen to eat more fruit and vegetables, which might increase my intake of pesticides. But since there isn’t much I can do about that, aside from buying organic when possible, I am choosing to eat healthier foods.
My advice is to be an informed consumer, and choose wisely. Support local farmers whenever possible, and buy organic whenever possible. We can only hope that one day soon, our food will be safer to eat. Only time will tell.