It’s become quite trenty to go grain free. So much so, that they’ve even started making grain free dog food! But why have we decided to shun the humble grain?
The usual argument goes something like this: Grains can’t be foraged by hunter-gathers and therefore are not a part of a natural human diet. The other thing Paleo advocates argue, is that also the advent of agriculture and the reliance on cereal grains as a staple caused a sharp decline in human well-being.
And as far as most modern grains and gluten are concerned, I’d be inclined to agree. Avoiding them is a good idea. In the name of profit and convenience, we’ve turned them into shadows of their former selves.
We’ve altered the proteins (gluten) so much that they cause inflamation and immune reactions upon entering our bodies. Nasty stuff, that. But is it really true that our ancestors never ate wild grains?
After doing some research, I’ve found that even before they were cultivated, people were eating grains. After all, grains are merely the seeds of grasses.
What counts as the Rubicon of domestication? Is it tending wild plants, weeding them, moving them to a new spot, broadcasting a handful of seeds on rich silt, depositing a seed or two in a depression made with a dibble stick, or ploughing? There appears to be no “aha!” or “Edison light bulb” moment.
There are, even today, large stands of wild wheat in Anatolia from which, as Jack Harlan famously showed, one could gather enough grain with a flint sickle in three weeks to feed a family for a year. Long before the deliberate planting of seeds in ploughed fields, foragers had developed all the harvest tools, winnowing baskets, grindstones, and mortars and pestles to process wild grains and pulses. -Against the Grain, Page 26
All the research seems to indicate that giving up grains and pulses deprives us of essencial nutrients like magnesium, copper, and even fiber. And Magnesium deficency is a big problem among paleo dieters. I suppose it is true that grains are not particually nutritious compared to grass fed meat or vegetables.
But why not eat both? And when we sprout them, They lose their acidity, and become infinitely more digestable. Soak them overnight, then drain and rinse them twice a day till their little tails start popping out.
And if it’s a heirloom variety, then the nutritional content should be better still. I imagine a freshly baked loaf made with heirloom grains would be quite a tempting prospect indeed.
While I wouldn’t make them a staple, perhaps grains are just another kind of seed?