Ok…that’s it…last straw…now it’s my turn!
I heard about cardiologist Dr. William Davis and his book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health quite some time ago. The first time I remember seeing mention of this guy was when a friend of mine posted his concern about the popularity of the book on his FaceBook page. We are both harvesters and have been in and around wheat all our lives. Neither of us grow wheat, but we harvest wheat so it came off as ridiculous to both of us.
Yesterday, I opened my email’s home page and what’s staring back at me? An article written by George Dvorsky titled, Why you should probably stop eating wheat. Whaaaaaaaatttttttt?????
So, I’ve been trying to “dig into” the basis of Dr. Davis’ claims regarding wheat. I can find all kinds of information about his book and reports and blogs about why wheat is bad for you, but finding good solid science reflecting his claims is hard to come up with. I have found all kinds of scary things meant to turn our back on wheat! The history of wheat (which I just read off “Wikipedia”) dates back to 9,000 BC. Whoa!
”Back in the 1950s, scientists began cross-breeding wheat to make it hardier, shorter, and better-growing. This work, which was the basis for the Green Revolution — and one that won U.S. plant scientist Norman Borlaug the Nobel Prize — introduced some compounds to wheat that aren’t entirely human friendly.” (George Dvorsky)
First off, hybridized wheat and genetically modified wheat are two different processes. Dr. Davis verifies this in an interview he did with Kate Fillion of MACLEANS.CA:
”The great irony here is that the term “genetic modification” refers to the actual insertion or deletion of a gene, and that’s not what’s happened with wheat. Instead, the plant has been hybridized and crossbred to make it resistant to drought and fungi, and to vastly increase yield per acre.” (Dr. William Davis)
“eHow” describes hybridizing as follows:
The most popular process of hybridization is when a plant or animal is bred with another plant or animal from a different species. The reasons scientists do this are to increase genetic diversity and to breed for specific traits. Hybridization is a popular option in agriculture as well. Agriculturists practice hybridization to make stronger and larger plants. Many animal breeders also use hybridization to breed out unwanted physical traits. Some claim it can make breeds stronger. However, most often people just desire to create new breeds. Cross-breeding is another form of hybridization and is used in both plant and animal breeding. Cross-breeding can create new flavors in agriculture. For instance, a tangelo is a result of cross-breeding a tangerine and a pomelo. Hybridization crops are more likely to be immune to crop illnesses, which is one reason farmers do it.
The best definition of Genetically Modified Organisms come from the “About.com” website:
(GMOs) refer to plants and animals with an altered genetic make-up. GMOs are generally altered or manipulated by a non-natural means in order to incorporate genes from another organism. Usually genetic engineering (GE) is done to achieve a trait not normally held by an organism, such as longer shelf life, disease resistance or different colors or flavors.
As you can see, the processes are very different – one is a natural process, the other is a forced process. The process which Norman Borlaug used in creating the dwarf varieties (from head high plants to knee high plants) was hybridization. GMOs continue to get a bad wrap from the American public and media. However, just as recently as January 3, 2013, an apology from Mark Lynas, a leading environmental activist, regarding his claims of GMOs was made public:
“I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.
As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.
So I guess you’ll be wondering—what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.” Mark Lynas
FYI…THERE IS NO GMO WHEAT! I’ve begun hearing this accusation a lot more recently. As you can see, there is no wheat included in the following list.
While trying to find data and fact to base this blog on, I came across two really good sites that are worth reading. Finding good, quality blogs, stories, reports, etc. supporting wheat and the benefits it has on the world’s population is fairly tough. I would highly recommend viewing the following while trying to decide if the most recent agricultural scare of “wheat is poison” is something you agree with or not.
1. “Wheat Improvement: The Truth Unveiled” written by The National Wheat Improvement Committee (NWIC)
2. Melissa McEwen’s blog “Hunt, Gather, Love” titled, “Wheat Belly” Melissa’s “About” page tells us who she is – “I studied agricultural economics at University of Illinois and then forestry in Uppsala, Sweden. After college, I worked in sustainable agriculture and then in web development. I then did some work in evolutionary biology at a university in NYC before moving to Chicago to help out with my family’s business”.
A plug for an outstanding FaceBook page to visit and ask your questions relating to agriculture and producers…U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance
And my final thought on this subject is this. I remember after the birth of our oldest daughter, Jamie, my grandma made the comment to me (after I had just put myself down about post baby weight) that if I wanted to lose weight, I needed to quit eating anything that was white – flour, sugar, salt, etc. What a wise woman she is! When I read about how people losing weight with Dr. Davis’ advice of “stop eating wheat”, I think about grandma. It makes perfect sense that if you’re not eating breads, donuts, cakes, pies, pasta, etc. you’re going to lose weight. And…with the weight loss, the diseases of obesity disappear, as well. Maybe Grandma should have written the book first.