While in Canada last week, I happened to catch an article taped to a friend's refrigerator which discussed the revival of a heritage wheat grown by a local farmer. Laura Robbin, reporting for the Ottawa Citizen, told how Patricia Hastings discovered the wheat, and has been growing it for several years until she finally has enough to start marketing it. The Red Fife wheat, named for the Scotsman David Fife who brought it to Canada in the 1840s is causing quite a stir among bakers. Even royalty were impressed by the taste, and Prince Charles took a few bags home after a recent visit. But what makes it more interesting to me and others is the possibility of a flour that is more friendly to our digestive system.

Over the past several years more and more people have become gluten intolerant, even if they haven't been fully diagnosed with celiac's disease. In "Wheat Belly," a book by William Davis, Davis describes how today's wheat has been modified so that it has lost almost all resemblance to the wheat our grandparents ate. As a result it has wreaked havoc on many digestive systems and engendered quite a few health problems. Since my daughter has been gluten-intolerant over the past several years, I've learned how to bake with alternate grains, but the idea that heritage grains could be restored to our diets without negative side effects is intriguing.

I haven't found any place to buy the wheat locally, but hope that as more people become aware of the dangers of modified foods, heritage grains (and vegetables) will begin to show up with the frequency of organic foods and will result in a vast improvement in our collective health.



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