Gary Young: Around the World to Find Heritage Grains

Was the last meal you had gluten-free? Well, I’m providing you with something that you won’t have to worry about. I’m not about eating gluten-free. I’m about eating hybridization-free and GMO-free. How many of you are willing to go back to nature, instead of just taking something that’s essential out of your diet completely?

How many of you can remember the fat-free fad diet that was popular years ago, which said to take all of the fat out of your diet so that you don’t gain weight? However, the right kind of fat doesn’t cause you to gain weight, true or false? True, absolutely. You need fat to make hormones. That’s really important.

You need gluten because gluten carries essential minerals and amino acids that are crucial to your well-being. People who go on gluten-free diets are likely to find out five years from now that they’re going to have extreme nutritional deficiencies. So we are seeing another fad hit the market—which has been going on for about the last five years. It’s a fad. It’s a money game. Instead of looking for the balance, they look at how they can capitalize on it.

The gluten we’re eating today is very toxic, but we don’t correct a problem by taking out an essential ingredient. We have to first recognize that the ingredient that is toxic is not a natural ingredient; it’s a hybridized, man-structured agent.

So I’m here to share with you a little bit about that. I’ve had a grand journey during the last 20 years as I’ve been searching for the answers.

Gary Young in Azerbaijan 2001

In this 2001 photo, Gary discovers einkorn as he conducted research in Azerbaijan.

As you will read in my new book, Ancient Einkorn: Today’s Staff of Life, my mother was one of the people in my life who really drove me to start looking for answers. I couldn’t understand how a person 26 years old could have rheumatoid arthritis and suffer as much as my mother did with swollen joints that just continued to swell more and more every day.

As I’ve written in my book, an early memory with my mother was when I was in Grade 3. One night she was sitting in the rocking chair beside the wood stove. Her hands were hurting her and I couldn’t figure out what to do. So I just took her hand and started rubbing it; and she said, “Oh, Son, that really helps.” Then she said, “I want you to do well in school, because I want you to become a doctor. You’ve got healing hands.”

I  said, “Mom, I don’t want to be a doctor; I want to be a cowboy like my dad.” Well, here we are.

My desire to find an answer had a lot to do with my mother and watching what she went through in her journey through life and her death that just kept driving me and driving me, looking for answers.

My mother was a key focus, but I saw the thousands of people around me as clients, friends, members, and associates who were suffering with similar conditions as my mother; and I said, “There has to be an answer. This is not what God sent us here for.”

What was the answer? So I started looking.

When I was a little boy, my dad grew nonhybridized wheat. He originally brought that wheat from Huntington, Utah, which the family had raised there back in the late 1800s. Of course back in those days, families would grow their wheat, oats, and barley for the year’s crop and for what they needed to put away for the winter; and then they would always put some seed away for the next year’s planting. Nobody bought seed in those days; they grew their own seed and carried it over from year to year. We grew wheat and oats primarily.

So the wheat my father planted on our farm is what he brought from Huntington, Utah, when they moved from there to southern Idaho in 1921 in iron-tired, covered wagons. Then in Idaho, on the Snake River where they homesteaded and started their farm, his father and uncles planted the seed that they brought from Huntington, Utah. Their wheat was not hybridized wheat or grain because it didn’t exist then except by nature’s natural hybridization process that happens through cross pollination of plants.

The wheat that we grew when I was a boy in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s was taller than us children. When my sister Nancy and I were 4, 5, 6, 7 years old, part of our job was walking behind the horse binder and shocking the shocks of grain and standing them up like teepees. Then we would play in them. We could run inside and hide, they were so tall.

As I got older, I thought, well, what happened; how come as I grew up, the wheat grew shorter? It didn’t make sense to me. Then when I traveled the world, I started seeing wheat that looked like the wheat that I played in when I was a boy. What happened?

Now, I want to clarify something here. The wheat species is called Triticum. You will see einkorn referred to in other publications as “einkorn wheat” (Triticum monococcum). Well, that would be the same as saying “spelt wheat” (Triticum spelta) or “kamut wheat” (Triticum turanicum). You could lump them all together if you want.

However, einkorn is as independent in its identity as oats, barley, spelt, kamut, amaranth, or quinoa. It has its own identity. I don’t want you confusing einkorn with today’s hybridized Triticum aestivum wheat, so I refer to it as einkorn or einkorn grain.

There’s a lot of confusion in the translation from biblical Hebrew or Greek. What was the actual real name of this ancient grain? The Hebrew Bible translations talk about “chittim.” To this day, we don’t really know; but it has been identified now as einkorn, which is the German translation of this ancient grain, meaning “one grain.”

In my book, Ancient Einkorn: Today’s Staff of Life, I explain that einkorn has just 14 chromosomes, while modern dwarf wheat has 42 chromosomes. They are very different.

Between our farm in France and the farm in Mona, we are growing over 250 acres of einkorn. [Einkorn has also now been planted at the new Northern Lights farm in British Columbia, Canada.]

Pakistani Einkorn Threshing

Gary took this photo of Pakistanis threshing their einkorn wheat. Northern Pakistan doesn’t have dwarf wheat.

For over 30 years, I’ve been watching the trend in our food supply; and the parallel of diseases with gluten consumption from hybridized wheat is scary.

I was in Morocco last year. We were driving down the road going into the hills to look for plants, and I saw wheat on the side of the road and said to the driver, “Pull over; I want to take some pictures of this wheat. I have not seen wheat that tall in a long time.” So he pulled over and I jumped out. I walked over to the field; and lo and behold, it looked like the wheat that I grew up on, nonhybridized wheat. I jumped back in the car and drove down the road to the other field, and it was the dwarf wheat.

I asked the agricultural engineer who was with us, “What’s the deal with the tall wheat there and this little short wheat here?” I didn’t want to say anything to him, I just wanted to hear what he had to say.

He said, “The tall wheat over there is our traditional nonhybrid wheat that we grow and eat here in Morocco.”

I said, “Well, what about this dwarf wheat here?”

He said, “Well, we grow that and export it for sale to make money. That’s the American wheat.” Interesting.

Well, here was my next question, “Have you ever heard of celiac disease?”

He said, “What’s that?”

I said, “It’s an inflammation in the gut that causes proliferation and a lot of other inflammation in the body, including pain, digestive problems, and bloating.”

He said, “Oh, we don’t have that in Morocco.”

I didn’t find it in Hunzaland, I didn’t find it in northern Pakistan, and I didn’t find it in Azerbaijan, either.

Hybrid vs Non-hybrid Wheat

It’s time to return to our ancestral staff of life before geneticists begin manipulating its DNA. Einkorn, the food of ancient civilization, with a natural, unmodified 14 chromosome DNA will impact our future in a positive way.

This is a picture of the wheat head that I took from the field in Morocco. On the left is the nonhybridized grain, and on the right is the American hybridized wheat. Look at the difference.

The one on the left stood on a stalk that was almost 5 feet tall, an average of 44 inches; and the one on the right, the American hybridized wheat—they called it American wheat in Morocco—was an average of 14 inches, typically.

The kernels are bigger. Why? Because it was genetically engineered to where it would create more production for less ground planted, and that’s what they’ve created. There was no concern about how it affected human life, just how much money could be made with it.

Triticum monococcum, einkorn, is an ancient grain and a potential candidate for replacing hybrid wheat, having no toxicity.

Gary Young Harvest Oats the Old-fashion Way

This photo was taken at the Young Living farm in Mona, Utah, showing Gary harvesting oats the old-fashioned way.

This photo was color touched because it was taken about 100 years ago when I was 20 years old. Actually, this is when I was cutting oats at the farm in Utah. We cut them that way this year; and if you come to the harvest in September, you will see it. We also thresh it the old-fashioned way.

I’m going to tell you a little secret that’s really important. You’ll read about it in my book as well. In ancient times when grain was first harvested, they didn’t have mechanical, mechanized equipment; so they would go into the field and cut the grain with scythes. They discovered that if they waited until the kernels were ripe and then hit them with the scythe to cut them, the kernels would fall out of the husk. So they realized that in order to capture the kernels, they had to cut the grain while it was still green. Then when they put the scythe through it, the kernels didn’t shake out of the husk.

They then tied the grain into bundles and stood them up, so the grain could finish maturing. There was a secret element that evolved in that grain, and that was called “enzymatic activity.” So as it stood there the seven days while it was maturing, guess what? The dew would come on at night and dry off with the sun in the day; or it would maybe rain on the grain during the afternoon or night, and then the next day the sun would come out and would dry it. Well, this process of moisture or dampness and drying caused the kernels to germinate. When they germinated, they activated the enzymes; so when people ate the kernels, they could digest them. It was that simple.

But people said that wasn’t good enough. We had to produce more food, so we had to mechanize, we had to speed up the process, and we had to reduce the costs. So they came out with the big combines back in the late 1920s, where the first 82-horse-drawn combines rolled through the fields of the Midwest. Then it just kept evolving from there.

What is a combine? A combine cuts and threshes the grain on the same day. So they wait until the grain is in a mature state, and then the combines come in and cut it and thresh it. That kernel never gets a chance to mature or germinate to activate the enzymes that facilitate the digestion process.

I started researching einkorn and found small plots in upper Hunzaland, which is in Pakistan. Mary and I were there in September. I’ll never forget, we were driving down the road in the Karimabad Valley, and I saw men down in the field with the scythes, cutting grain that was right up to the men’s shirt pockets. So I said to the driver, “Stop, I have to go see this.” I jumped out and ran down to the field, and here was this beautiful grain that was so different than what I am accustomed to seeing back home.

I got all excited because it looked similar to what we grew at home, except that the heads were a little bit different. Instead of being partially square and a little fuller, they were very flat and had smaller kernels, so I knew that it was a different type.

It took me four years after that discovery before I was able to get it translated to what I thought was farro. Then I went looking for it. I found it also in Azerbaijan and Ethiopia, all being harvested by hand. But it wasn’t farro. It was einkorn!

This picture of einkorn is at the Young Living farm in France taken just before last year’s convention.