In Deuteronomy 8:8, Yahweh described the Promised Land as “a land of wheat and barley.” In John 6, we see that Yahshua fed thousands with five loaves of barley. The story of how a class of food long revered as the “staff of life” should suddenly become a toxic substance to large numbers of people is complex and controversial. But it also provides revealing insights into modern agriculture and industrialized methods of food production. Modern wheat varieties have a long history of hybridization to create a crop easier to process with machinery, from the field to the oven. Commercial hybrid “dwarf” wheat contains a “super starch,” amylopectin-A, that is very fattening. It also contains a “super gluten” that is inflammatory. It even contains a “super drug” that is highly addictive, making you crave and eat more and more.
Problems occur when we are cruel to our grains – when we fractionate them into bran, germ and naked starch, when we mill them at high temperatures, when we extrude them to make them crunchy breakfast cereals, and when we consume them without careful preparation. Proper preparation of grains is a kind of gentle process that imitates nature. It involves soaking for a period in warm acidulated pure water in the preparation of porridge or long, slow sour dough fermentation in the making of delicious bread. Such processes neutralize phytic acid, an enzyme inhibitor, which can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and, especially, zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. Vitamin content increases, particularly B vitamins, tannins, complex sugars, gluten and other difficult-to-digest substances are partially broken down into simpler components.
Gluten intolerance makes headlines a lot these days. It has created a market for gluten free products using alternatives such as rice flour or coconut flour. If you have not tried any of these products, I will tell you that they do not compare to wheat products. While I am bothered by wheat, but not to the point of Celiac disease, I do just fine with the ancient grains: spelt, barley and einkorn flours. These three ancient grains are known as “the covered wheats,” since the kernels do not thresh free of their hard coverings, making them more labor intensive to mill.
Einkorn is known as the oldest variety of wheat and is my favorite. It is thought to have originated in the upper area of the fertile crescent of the Near East (Tigris-Euphrates regions), and is quite probably the main grain recorded in biblical history. It is a rich source of beta carotene lutein, a powerful antioxidant, and also both forms of vitamin E. Compared to modern varieties, it has higher levels of protein, crude fat, phosphorus and potassium.
Emmer is similar to einkorn and probably an early hybrid of wild einkorn that is more suitable for a wider range of climates, particularly warmer climates. The earliest civilizations initially ate emmer as a porridge. Even today it remains an important crop in Ethiopia and a minor crop in Italy and India.
Spelt is probably the predecessor to modern wheat. It is a hybrid of emmer with more adaptability. Spelt produces a heavier product that commercial bakers avoid. It fares much better in sourdough applications where its flavors can develop fully and long souring enhances its digestibility. Commercially produced sourdough bread that contains yeast in the list of ingredients is not a true sourdough bread loaf. Only three ingredients create a delicious, nutritious bread, but keep in mind that sourdough is a leavening agent we must avoid during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Due to difficulties in harvesting these ancient grains, only a few farmers in the U.S. grow them. Lentz Spelt Farm in Marlin, Washington, is one of the few that produces einkorn, spelt, barley and emmer. Contact Lentz Farm by phone at (509) 717-0015 or by mail at P.O. Box 2, Marlin, WA 98832.
I buy einkorn flour online at www.tropicaltraditions.com. If you get on the email list you can get occasional special offers, such as free shipping. Also check out www.store.jovialfoods.com for a variety of einkorn products, some of which I am blessed to have local access.
And remember in Matthew 4:4, Yahshua answered the Evil One with these words, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh.”
by: Lora Wilson