Thursday, September 3, 2009

To Eat Wheat?

You can imagine a well sculpted, deeply researched New York Times piece about the increasing numbers of those who cannot (or just think they cannot) tolerate wheat, but this isn't it. This is a baseless morning blog post.

As I've said before, when it comes to the burgeoning realm of food sensitivities, I'm torn. There's my inner Michael Ruhlman, who thinks people who don't eat everything are sissies. Then's there's the inhaler that I stopped using once I stopped using dairy.

Wheat, or gluten, is by far the fastest growing intolerant food. I'm shocked by the sheer volume of people who are giving it up. Often these tales of abstinence are accompanied by miraculous recoveries. Suddenly that chronic back pain you've had for years just disappears, all because you switched to quinoa pasta like that pictured above (with bacon, escarole, garlic and chili flakes).

Sounds fishy, doesn't it? And yet I have my own health success story with cutting out dairy, so I'm left wondering if perhaps it isn't the wheat itself that's to blame. Why would one of the oldest crops known to humanity suddenly turn on us?

Probably because we turned on it. I'm no farmer, but I know we don't grow wheat like we used to. Perhaps we've done to wheat what cell phones did to good old to human interaction.

I don't know if it's the pesticide, genetic modification, over-processing or... well, it's probably some combination of those.

Do I eat wheat? All the time. We all do, and the number of those who cannot is vastly outnumbered by those who can. And I wouldn't be surprised if those who think they can't eat wheat could eat some kinds of wheat, perhaps an heirloom variety not processed into white bread. But to be perfectly honest, I now eat less of it and feel better.

Recipe: Quinoa-Corn Pasta With Escarole

Ingredients: just look at the directions. The ingredients are in there.

1. Boil pasta.

2. Sautee diced bacon and chili flakes. When the bacon is crisp, add escarole and garlic.

3. Toss the pasta with the escarole, bacon, spices, and one dipper of the pasta water.

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Erica Kagan said...

As a Wheat- Free Gluten Free person myself, I read up on the subject whenever possible. Much is being learned through research on this nowadays. Like your noticeable changes having given up dairy, those who identify a wheat and/ or gluten sensitivity are amazed at the differences in their overall health and well being. Living Without Magazine is a wonderful resource on this topic. I once saved a very informative article from this magazine. If I find an online link to it I will share with Tea and Food blog. Otherwise I will drop back with the title of it. Did you know that those who pinpoint an intolerance/ sensitivity to wheat and/ or gluten note better mental function upon giving it up? Many of these folks feel they have recovered from a "brain fog." Other symptons can be much more severe. Most people who have Celiac's Disease in the U.S.A. are not yet diagnosed. Celiac's Disease is an auto- immune disease associated with Gluten and Wheat intolerances or sensitivities. And as you have noted, wheat is most likely cheaply produced these days which doesn't make matters better for any of us. When cost goes down, often quality pays the price. Grain for thought!

Anne said...

Modern varieties of wheat have much more gluten in them than the grains we've been eating for thousands of years. That's partly why people suddenly reacting badly to it.

Jay said...

All these food allergies do seem a little fishy. I don't remember any kids having fatal peanut allergies when I was in school. But now you can't bring peanuts on a plane because you might drop one and it could bounce into a sleeping peanut-allergic kid's mouth.

Funny how they don't seem to have peanut allergies in Africa or Mexico. The WHO didn't seem to be worried that anyone would die from Plumpy'nut.

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