Homegrown, Sustainable Wheat

I've biked past the wheat fields of Kansas/Colorado. I saw the seemingly endless fields of annual corn + wheat GMOs.

The centralized food industry of the United States has evolved far beyond traditional farming. Today, our farming techniques are very good at producing mass quantities of drought-resistant, disease-resistant, and (*gasp*) herbicide-resistant crops. However, our feeble attempts at genetic manipulation and industrialization of our food supply has neglected a number of extremely important variables: nutrition, toxicity, and sustainability.

When selecting a single species of wheat on which to focus our centralized, mass production, we select it primarily for its ability to yield and tolerate chemical treatments. There are only inconclusive studies regarding the potential long-term health effects from consuming Roundup treated GMOs.

Most importantly, the entire system is absolutely unsustainable.

Besides being heavily dependent on fossil fuels, most wheat is an annual crop. The nutritionless soil needs to be tilled, and new seeds must be planted. Perennials, on the other hand, don't need to be replanted each season. Perennials typically have more standing biomass than annuals; the roots are generally far deeper--which means better erosion control and less long-term irrigation & fertilization. Perennials also produce slightly less yield than annuals, which is why they're generally neglected by the industry whose bottom line is profit--not nutrition or logically sound, well-designed, sustainable farming practices.

Decentralization for a Sustainable & Secure Future

With the decreasing availability (increasing costs) of fossil fuels and the diminishing supply of fresh water on Earth due to climate change, the option to make unsustainable shortcuts in our food production is quickly fleeting. The solution? Decentralization & organic practices.

In 1970, 90% of the US labor force was dedicated to agriculture. Today it's 2.6%. Talk about centralization! We need to support local farms. We need to grow our own food. We need to become independent.

Personally, I'm converting my suburban weedy backyard into an organic garden. I've been educating myself about permaculture, which focuses on no-maintenance, self-sustaining, long-term gardening techniques that work *with* nature instead of trying to get short-lived, highly productive & unnatural yields. Obviously, my small-scale yields will only minimally impact my dependence on the food industry. However, if we converted every purely-aesthetic lawn in America to a fully functional mini Edible Forest Garden, we will no doubt make a huge impact on our dependence on the currently unsustainable agriculture industry.

In addition to various perennial vegetables I'm planting, I decided to venture out and search for a sustainable wheat variety. Of course, I want a perennial wheat.

Enter Perennial Wheat

Unfortunately, perennial wheat seed isn't exactly in stock at your typical organic seed store. It's currently under research funded by US tax dollars--which claims perennial wheat is a solution to our failing agriculture industry. (surprise surprise)

I ran across an article outlining a few lesser known (perennial) grains, and decided to plant _Thinopyrum intermedium_ or Wild Triga. Almost hopeless, I gave a call to the Den Besten Seed Company (605-337-3318). They said they usually carry Wild Triga seed @ ~$3/lb, but are currently out of stock. I'm planning on calling them back around September for next season. Can't wait!

Other sources:

March 10, 2011 · Michael · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: agriculture, climate, diet, health

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