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My Unintentional Experiment with Wheat

When my second son was born with asthma and other health challenges, our family became gluten free. I removed wheat, dairy, and eggs, everything I knew caused phlegm and allergies in many people. My son got better from our change in diet, in fact we all did, so I kept that up for about 10 years. We ate simple meals of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and greens. My son never got sick again. When I saw what an improvement diet made on a disease the doctors had told me would never go away, I was inspired. I wrote a book called "Mother's Pearls: A revival of Parenthood" (in Hebrew and in English) to help other parents who might need this information. I have never looked back. Searching for health in every corner of the world and living what I was learning became my passion and my mission. It continues until today.

When it comes to my family, I have complete control over what they eat at home because I am the one who does the shopping and most of the cooking. But over my animals, it's a bit more of a challenge.


We buy hay usually once a year, enough for the whole year. There are a few kinds of hay available in Israel and even less in our area. The farmers down here grow barley for hay and wheat for human consumption. However, they also grow wheat in between potato crops to help replenish the soil. This they also sell as hay . Around Pesach both barley and wheat are harvested as hay. They cut the hay and leave it laying in the field to dry until they bail it and load it on trucks for delivery. This is a tricky business because the farmers have to gamble on the last rains. If they harvest too early they've missed out on a longer stalk which grows with the rains and their drying hay will be ruined in the rains. But if they wait too long for the last rains and the rains don't come, the drying grains will fall off the stalk and they will lose a lot of the nutrition that the animals need from the hay. This would be called straw, and it is almost as worthless in value as it is in nutrition.

So right around Pesach all the cow farmers , horse, goat and sheep owners are scrambling around trying to find the best hay for the best prices before all the good stuff is gone for the year. Most of the time we talk to the right people and we have the first pick of local barley hay for our animals. When we get there too late, all that's left is wheat.

I have seen this over and over again. Barley makes the animals healthy, fat and shiny . They are happy and seem to just glow. But when we give them the wheat hay, it takes about a month to see the slow digression of health. They begin to show signs of sickness, disease, rubbing against fences and a dullness to their fur. They spread most of the hay around their pens and don't seem to enjoy eating it . When they eat barley, they eat every crumb. The same goes with the rabbits, guinea pigs and horses. It will be a year of eating wheat when the goats don't have healthy pregnancies, many of the newborn kids die in utero or just after birth. Their milk isn't flowing, and they have a hard time recovering from birth or even getting pregnant in the first place. These are very hard years.


It took me a while to pinpoint the problem, but now that I've seen it a few times in the years when we have wheat as hay, I can finally say what the problem is: it's the wheat. They have done something to the wheat that is very disagreeable to the animals (and I'm guessing to the people). Either the pesticides they are using, GMO varieties, or hybridizing. Wheat didn't used to be a bad thing, but somewhere along the way, it changed. And not for the better.


We don't eat wheat in my family. We haven't for about 15 years, so I can't see the detrimental effects it might have had on us. But I can only imagine what it's doing to all the people who eat it for almost every meal or snack. It would be very hard to pinpoint their dis-eases because wheat is in most of their processed foods, even those they don't realize include wheat in some form or another.


This was an unintentional experiment . I didn't mean to use my animals to see what might happen if I fed them wheat , it's just a bad situation that has repeated itself over and over. Now that I see what the result is, I will do everything in my power not to let it happen again.


My advice: stay away from wheat in any form. There are so many flours available now, gluten free or not, that it with a little effort it's easy enough to make the switch. Experiment, look up recipes online or buy gluten free or wheat free products.


What I do know is that wheat, one of the revered Seven Species of the Torah, has become anything but holy. Until we get back to the original wheat of biblical times , it's not worth being part of some grand experiment where the results are detrimental to our (and our four legged friends') health and wellbeing.


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