Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Rat's Tale


Genetic Roulette - The Gamble for Our Lives
Watch the whole movie free until 31 Oct 12012


Friday, October 19, 2012

Einkorn, an Ancient Grain

I've been reading a lot about industrialized wheat, and its impact on human health from the book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, by William Davis, MD, a renowned cardiologist. What got my attention was connecting his theories and remembering two years ago when I gave up ALL grains from my diet... I lost 30 pounds and felt great.

When I was a youngster, both of my grandparent's families raised wheat in Kansas. I can remember visiting, and walking in the fields. The wheat was just over 3 feet tall, and lots was lost when the combines harvested the crops because many of the tall stalks had fallen over before harvesting.

So I did a little more reading on wheat. BigAg started to "improve" wheat around the early- 1960's, and crossbreeding resulted in much shorter (dwarf) wheat stalks with fuller heads of grain. The new wheat grew faster too. As a result, the per-acre wheat yield of modern wheat far exceeds the yield of old wheat varieties.  

"That wheat has been hybridized is not, in itself, a reason to think that wheat is bad. The bad part comes by way of a little-known situation that resulted when wheat was hybridized. Unlike with most other plants, when wheat is hybridized it is genetically altered by the addition of chromosomes. New genes that were never present in either parent were created. As a result, modern wheat varieties are profoundly different from the wheat that mankind ate for centuries prior to our industrial age. For example, the wheat mentioned in the Bible is most likely Emmer wheat, which has 28 chromosomes, while modern wheat varieties have 42 chromosomes." Source

By the way... "modern (hybridized) wheat" is NOT THE SAME AS GMO wheat!

According to Dr. Davis, modern wheat with its new genetic code, and the newly-created constituents that came with cross breeding, is largely responsible for widespread obesity (wheat bellies), but it is also doing damage to people’s bodies in other serious ways. Dr. Davis provides convincing evidence to suggest that, in addition to heart disease, modern wheat is a player in such diseases as diabetes, bowel cancer, asthma, schizophrenia, autism, hypothyroidism, and dementia, not to mention Crohn’s disease.

The earliest known ancient wheat, Einkorn, has just 14 chromosomes and is being grown organically in Tuscany (Italy) and sold in many product forms by Jovial. It's also now being grown in a small pocket in the Western US and Canada. According to Dr. Davis, Einkorn naturally crossed with wild goat grass to make Emmer wheat (with 28 chromosomes). Both of these grains are available today, although not likely in your supermarket. In fact, the 2-3 health food stores within a hundred miles of me don't carry them either, so I had to order mine online.

I bought a package of Jovial™ Einkorn pasta to try, and I have some Einkorn flour coming soon. Baking bread may be a challenge simply because using the grains is a bit different, but there's a good tutorial here.

I cooked the Einkorn pasta for spaghetti last night, and I found it really did have a slightly nutty taste. Other than that, it was just pasta. One other thing I did notice... cleaning the pot. All the pasta I have ever cooked has always left a thin starchy film on the pot, but the Einkorn did not.

Wheat is in almost everything we eat, and giving it up totally is really, really hard... no cookies, breads, cakes, hamburger buns, crackers, biscotti, muffins, pizza, sandwiches, breakfast cereals, pasta, thickened gravies and sauces... the list is almost endless.

It will likely be several months before I will really know if I can have some wheat in my diet (in the form of Einkorn or Emmer) and still have the benefits of weight loss and increased energy from my no-wheat diet of 2 years ago.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Growing Belgian Endive

I am halfway into my experiment with Belgian Endive, because today I dug up the roots that grew all summer in the garden. The summer greens are edible, but quite bitter except the very tiny, baby leaves, so none were harvested. 

Some of the roots grew long and very fat, and a few grew long and skinny, and a couple grew gnarled. Of course, I broke several of the roots off at the tips because I didn't dig deep enough. (I only dug as deep as my shovel would go.) I doubt it will matter, but it will be interesting to see what kind of buds each type of root produces this winter, or if it even makes any difference.

I trimmed the tops to about an inch long, depositing the tops for composting, and then trimmed the tops again down to about 1/4 inch before putting them in a bucket for cool, dark storage.

I didn't have any sand, which is recommended for the root storage, so I used a left-over bag of potting soil to support the roots in the bucket. The potting soil had become very moist from sitting on the ground (probably had a hole in it somewhere) and I hope the roots do not rot before I am ready to expose them to light, some in January and some in February.

Once the roots are exposed to light (and some warmth), it takes about 3 weeks for them to grow the pale white and yellow-tipped torpedos we find at the grocers (at exorbitant prices).

The growth over the last 6-7 weeks was hearty, and I'm sorry I didn't take a photo today before I started digging them. The photo above was taken in late August, artichokes on the left and Belgian endive on the right. I didn't plant many as this was a trial run.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Slow, but Steady Progress


I bought and planted a tiny American Hazelnut 4 years ago. It was so small I wasn't sure it would survive, but it did. Last year was the first year it bore any nuts... a whopping 15 nuts!

This year was much better, probably about 125 nuts! I'm encouraged, and intend to plant more hazels next spring. 

Hazelnuts (aka filberts) are used in confections to make pralines, and in some hazelnut paste products (such as  Nutella). In the United States, hazelnut butter is being promoted as a more nutritious spread than its peanut butter counterpart, though it has a higher fat content.

Hazelnuts are very high in energy and loaded with numerous health-benefiting nutrients that are essential for optimum health. 100 g of nuts provide 628 calories. The nuts are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic as well as essential fatty acid linoleic acid that help lower LDL or bad cholesterol and increase HDL or good cholesterol.

They are are an excellent source of vitamin E; containing about 15 g per 100 g (providing 100% of RDA). Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen free radicals. 

The nuts are packed with many of the important B-complex group of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), and folates. They are rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

What's not to love?