It’s a Grain, Grain, Grain, Grain World

Worldwide, 20% of all human calories come from wheat products. 50% of all calories come from the Big 3 grains: wheat, corn, and soy. Of all the food choices in the world, from mongongo nuts in western Africa, to seafood in coastal areas, to coconut in the South Pacific, the Big 3 grains now comprise half of the human diet.

At what other time in human history has such a situation occurred?

None. Just as we’ve never seen the likes of Honey Boo Boo take center stage on broadcast media before, there is NO evolutionary precedent for such a grain-based lifestyle. Not in the 1800s, not in the Middle Ages, not in the time of the Bible, not in pre-Biblical Rome, Greece, or Egypt, not during the transition from scavenging-hunting-gathering to agriculture, not 50,000 years ago, not 100,000 years ago, not during the appearance of the first Homo sapiens, not during the very first Homo species nor pre-human predecessors Australopithecus . . . NO species of hominids has EVER existed on a diet that looks like the modern human diet.

Our own USDA argues, via the Food Plate and Food Pyramid, that we should increase intake of grains further to comprise 60% of human calories. In other words, they suggest that, not only should we consume “healthy whole grains,” but that we should allow them to dominate diet.

Odd fact: The Big 3 grains that now dominate worldwide diets are also the recipients of most of the attention of geneticists to increase yield using techniques such as genetic modification (e.g., Bt toxin corn) and chemical mutagenesis, i.e., the intentional provocation of mutations (e.g., Clearfield wheat sold by BASF). Branded and patented forms of these monocrop grains therefore dominate the fields of farmers, who are also obliged (sometimes virtually forced) to purchase the herbicides or pesticides that specific strains are tied to, such as glyphosate-resistant corn that requires use of glyphosate, or imazamox-resistant wheat that requires imizamox. Note that these strains have to be purchased every season, disallowing (genetically or legally) a farmer from saving seed at the time of harvest to use next season (as traditional farmers did for thousands of years). Such seed strains essentially “lock” a farmer into repeated purchase of seed and the herbicide tied to it.

Compare this system with that of locally produced, small scale farming, in which small private operations with several dozen or several hundred heads of livestock or chickens, smaller plots of land to produce a variety of vegetables and fruit, many of them perennial. Scattered, independent food production is not amenable to centralized control.

What we have in our modern food system is a world increasingly dependent on monocultures of 3 grains, largely commanded by Big Agribusiness, that yields control over the producers (farmers) and the consumers (grain-eaters).

Is this a form of economic domination? Or is it just a response to the increasing demands of an overpopulated world?

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54 Responses to It’s a Grain, Grain, Grain, Grain World

  1. Jennifer says:

    Is Black rice allowed on the Wheat Belly Diet?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_rice

    • Boundless says:

      > Is Black rice allowed on the Wheat Belly Diet?

      Only in condiment amounts, as whole grain. For a total net carbs of 15 grams per meal, that doesn’t allow much rice.

  2. marian E cook says:

    Are ‘Spelt’ & ‘Kamut’ allowed on the wheat belly diet?

    • Boundless says:

      > Are ‘Spelt’ & ‘Kamut’ allowed on the wheat belly diet?

      No. They are wheat. They are gluten-bearing grains. They are high glycemic. They may or may not actually be heirloom genetics, and may or may not present the other toxic hazards of modern wheat, but they have always been a problem in the human diet.

  3. Charlie says:

    Is Quick oats oatmeal allowed on the wheatbelly diet?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Wheat Belly is not a diet, but an articulation of the problems exaggerated by the genetics manipulations introduced into wheat. But if you start with that premise, you can craft a wonderfully effective and healthy diet. A perfect diet does not contains the seeds of grasses, such as oats, because they send blood sugar sky-high.

  4. Nancy says:

    I’ve only been wheat free for 42 days and have lost 8 lbs but had a couple of handfuls of microwave popcorn last night (no wheat) and it acted like a sleeping pill! I fell asleep hard and when I woke on the couch felt like I was in a fog nearly having to drag myself to bed. Do you think that was just from the carbs in the popcorn or something else??

    • Boundless says:

      > … just from the carbs in the popcorn or something else??

      If you’ve been low-carbing, the blood sugar spike, and later crash, could easily do that.

      We’d need the ingredients list to rule out “something else”.

  5. Katrina says:

    Hi Dr. David,
    I am most of the way through the Wheat Belly book. The quick and dirty guide to the diet on this blog suggests giving up “prepared or processed” corn starch and corn meal products. I am wondering if homemade corn tortillas made with Masa flour are ok occasionally, if I went grain free most of the time? I don’t really understand yet why it is suggested here to give up all grains, as all the science I’ve read so far in the book is focused on modern wheat gluten, but as I said, I’m not all of the way through the book. Is it to do with GI/blood sugar? Would that impact be mediated by consuming the tortillas with meat, legumes, vegies and cheeses etc?

    Thanks
    Katrina

    • Katrina says:

      Sorry I meant Dr. Davis!

    • Boundless says:

      > … homemade corn tortillas …

      It is to do with blood sugar, and the “net carbs” that drive that.

      Corn is very high glycemic (even when baked, non-GMO, organic, free-range, fair-traded, all natural, humanely harvested :)).

      A single tortilla (6-8 chips) is usually your entire meal’s worth of net carbs (15 grams). Corn, in almost any form, is a junk carb.

      > Would that impact be mediated by consuming the tortillas with
      > meat, legumes, vegies and cheeses etc?

      That notion has been conjectured here, and I don’t recall Dr. D. addressing it, but my bet is:
      not to any meaningful extent.

      • Barbara in New Jersey says:

        Boundless,

        I think you are correct. High glycemic foods are digested by our bodies in a manner befitting high glycemic foods. Even as a small part of a larger meal, it probably stresses our entire digestive tract to produce the just the necessary enzymes to assimilate it. Our liver must stop burning fat and start burning sugar.
        Pancreas too must make adjustments and so forth.

        This is why we just threw away all the open containers of sauces, ketchup, soups and so forth made with wheat, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar. etc. and gave the unopened containers to the food banks. Only a condiment size of perhaps rice is suggested for occasional ingestion. Maize/corn products are on the avoid list.

        • Katrina says:

          Thanks very much. Must say I’m sad to hear this, and I’m assuming the same applies for buckwheat even though it’s ‘technically’ not a grain?

          In light of this is it ok to occasionally eat pasta and bread made with besan (chickpea) flour (I stress, occasionally and moderately)?

          Thanks again
          Katrina

          • Boundless says:

            > … and I’m assuming the same applies for buckwheat …
            > pasta and bread made with besan (chickpea) flour …

            It’s all about net carbs. Work up the numbers for your recipe and portion size. if over 15 grams net for the whole meal, then you know what you are doing if you choose to ignore that.

  6. Katrina says:

    Ok, thanks again.

  7. James says:

    Dr. Davis,
    I have been wheat-free, except for the odd lapse, for the past three and a half months. I’ve lost 16 pounds, and feel and look better. My questions are:
    1. Is it okay to eat bread made with emmer wheat (Dinkel bread) (which is becoming more and more popular in Athens, Greece, where I live)? And generally, what is your take on Emmer based flour?
    2. What is your opinion of rusks made with barley flour, so popular in Crete?
    In closing, for some reason, the Greek government under Eleftherios Venizelos actually banned the cultivation of Emmer wheat in Greece, where it was cultivated since antiquity, and forced Greek farmers to cultivate wheat varieties more in tune with the demands of food manufacturers in the West. And this happened in 1930! Fortunately, Emmer is making a gradual comeback here.

    Thank you
    James Suntres

    • Boundless says:

      See: “Heirloom wheats” on Wheat Free Forum:
      http://wheatfreeforum.com/index.php/topic,89.msg463.html
      It has a link back to an article here by Dr. Davis.

      • James Suntres says:

        Thanks for your quick reply! My confusion has been cleared. We are bombarded by so much conflicting info. Bottom line is to steer clear of wheat and grains in every way shape or form!

        • Boundless says:

          Well, as you probably suspect by now, it’s a
          Frequently Asked Question.

          Reading Wheat Belly, it would be easy to assume that the major problem with wheat is the genetic changes since 1960. If you assume that, as many do, the question of heirlooms naturally arises.

          However, those genetic changes brought with them spectacular yields, causing nouveau-goatgrass to become cheap and pervasive in the market.

          My present inclination is that the pandemic wheat consumption is the larger problem (extreme glycemic metabolism), with the genome effects running a close second (and explaining the rise in wheat sensitivities).

          Wheat, of course, leads a gang of modern metabolic miscreants that also includes cheap sugar (esp. pervasive fructose, including the novel HFCS), low fat mania, and novel adverse processed seed oils, all of which hit full stride in the last quarter century.

  8. Gary says:

    Here’s a story of a parent getting fined for packing a grain-free lunch for her child i.e. for NOT following the Canada Food Guide. Crazy!

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/11/19/mothers-meal-of-meat-potatoes-carrots-milk-not-good-enough-for-daycare-charged-10-to-add-ritz-crackers/