• Emails from folks with allergic or digestive issues to wheat in the United States experienced no symptoms whatsoever when they tried eating pasta on vacation in Italy.
• Confused parents wondering why wheat consumption sometimes triggered autoimmune reactions in their children but not at other times.
• In my own home, I’ve long pondered why my husband can eat the wheat I prepare at home, but he experiences negative digestive effects eating even a single roll in a restaurant.
There is clearly something going on with wheat that is not well known by the general public. It goes far and beyond organic versus non-organic, gluten or hybridization because even conventional wheat triggers no symptoms for some who eat wheat in other parts of the world…
I have chosen not to focus intensively on either ecological or agricultural issues in this blog, although both are of very intense personal interest to me, because there is so much other “stuff” going on, that when I decided to open The Anglophilic Anglican up to contemporary political commentary, I decided not to dilute the focus too much.
However, one of the premises of this blog is that traditional society, and traditional life-ways – particularly, but not exclusively, those of Western Christendom – are under attack from a variety of quarters, and this is one of them: the industrialization and globalization of agriculture, and the replacement of wise husbandry and stewardship of the land by people who live and work close to that land, and are responsible to their local communities, a hallmark of (most) agriculture since its earliest beginnings in the “Neolithic revolution,” with cynical profiteering by multinational corporations.
Note: it’s not the farmers who are getting filthy rich from the (mis-)use of chemicals or GMOs in agriculture, it’s the producers of those chemicals or GMOs. Most farmers still want to do the right thing, but they’re facing an uphill battle, caught between industry propaganda and the lure of higher yields with less effort. Who loses? We all do:
The farmers, who aside from the moral issues are still usually struggling to make ends meet.
The local community, since the internationalization of agriculture shifts the money-making aspects from Main Street to corporate boardrooms.
The consumer, who as this article makes all-too-clear, are consuming agricultural products – one hesitates to call it “food” – that are making us sick, and in some cases may be slowly killing us.
The environment, which suffers from herbicide, pesticide, and fertilizer run-off, and is at constant risk from the potential escape of genetically modified organisms into the ecosystem.
Meanwhile, the corporate fat-cats get fatter. What’s the answer? Well, there is no easy one. This article makes a good case for avoiding conventional wheat, wherever possible (a real challenge, especially for people on a limited budget), but in general, the less processed, industrialized food we can consume, the better: for our own health, the health of our communities, and the health of our all-important ecosystems. Here is the rule of thumb I try to use, finances allowing, when it comes to the source of my food (in order of preference):
- Local, organic. Obviously, this is the gold standard!
- Local, non-organic – but sustainable, if possible. Look for “certified naturally grown,” or at least “IPM (Integrated Pest Management) certified.” In any case, at least local farms have a vested interest in not making their neighbors sick, and often you can actually see how they’re growing their food… some even invite this. Look for those farms.
- Non-local, organic. It’s better not to have to eat food that has been shipped for hundreds of miles, for reasons of taste, nutrition, and fuel consumption; but even at that, it’s better to eat food that has been grown organically – even far away – than food that’s been pumped full of chemicals.
- Non-local, non-organic – as a last resort, to sustain life, if that’s all you can get (or afford). Try to be as choosy as possible, and if nothing else, at least shop the edges of the supermarket: that’s where the (reasonably) fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, and dairy hang out. Avoid the brightly-packed, but hideously over-processed, “food products” in the center as much as possible.
We are under attack from, as I say, many quarters: political, social, economic, environmental, nutritional, even medical. Globalism and corporatism are the enemies, at least as much as the more obvious ones like Islamic terrorists, and runaway, displacement-level immigration. The more we can stick to healthy, sustainable, local sources – from keeping politics as local as possible (with exceptions like securing national borders), to patronizing the local farmer, local artisan, craftsman, or business, the better. For all of us!