Eating ancient wheat

I fell off the wagon last night, eating a small serving of pasta with meat sauce. Actually, I didn’t fall off so much as hop off briefly. It was a calculated act, not a moment of weakness.

My wife and I decided to try some fusilli (corkscrew pasta) made with einkorn wheat (a variety now considered a relic, first having been cultivated 12,000 years ago). I had read about this ancient wheat in reviews of Wheat Belly, a new book by Dr. William Davis. (For instance, see the reviews by Dana Carpender, Joe Lindley and Tom Naughton.)

According to the reviews, Davis draws a distinction between the wheat of our ancestors and the wheat grown in the past 50 years. Modern, dwarf wheat has been engineered to be faster growing and easier to harvest. It grows on a short, sturdy stalk, so the amber waves of grain are now history.

The modern wheat is far more genetically complex than the ancient wheat, with chromosomes increasing from 14 to 42. Unfortunately, making the new wheat healthy for people to eat was low on the list of priorities. In fact, it was not there at all. Davis links the new varieties of wheat to a range of health problems, including obesity, dementia, acid reflux and acne.

Oh — and diabetes and heart disease, too. [Read more…]