Clean Wheat

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Q:  Is the wheat you use free of glyphosate (Roundup®)?

A:  I’ve been asked several times lately about an issue that has been making the rounds of the internet.  It’s the question of glyphosate residues on wheat causing all kind of health problems in people consuming the wheat.

Most of the places I’ve lived in have been important wheat-producing areas, and I’ve known wheat farming and farmers for maybe 40 years.  There’s lots of wheat grown here in the Pacific Northwest, and before that I lived in what is called “The Golden Triangle” in Montana where the best hard red wheat in the world is grown.  From there all the way across to eastern Oregon and Washington there is wheat everywhere.

One well-known website states that most wheat has been sprayed with Roundup® (glyphosate) in order to dry it for harvest. And the writer links that practice to some scary things like gluten intolerance and autism. His information fits some areas, but not Northwest wheat country.

It’s simply not true that it is commonly and routinely done.  I just had a conversation about it with a guy who brokers wheat and peas, and he honestly thought I was pulling his leg.  I checked it out with a guy who owns one of the best, most progressive farms around, and he was aware of the practice but only in the sense that, “No, we don’t do that here.  We don’t have to, and we would get docked at the elevator (paid less) if there is pesticide residue on the grain anyway.”

Around here, wheat is harvested in July and August.  It’s harvested all summer in Montana and parts of the east side depending on the variety.  Here in the Northwest and in the area around Montana, the Dakotas, Washington, Alberta, and Saskatchewan you don’t have a problem getting the wheat to dry.  It dries just fine all by itself, and in fact the farmers have to monitor the dryness to avoid too much grain shattering because it can be too dry and harvest poorly.  There are indeed wet places where they do have to worry about their crop drying enough, but it’s not here in the Northwest. A lot of the glyphosate application happens in areas like the UK or back East, where rain is common throughout the summer.  A lot of the studies and concerns about its use are discussing problems that occur in areas outside the Northwest.  We are very fortunate here in many ways.  In the UK, in Europe, in areas where summers are wet, you bet it can be a problem, and they do use it, and there may be problems.  When a desiccant is used the seed will not germinate, so it can’t be used for seed.  But it also can’t have over a certain limit of residue.  Everything has to be timed just right or the farmer will lose money.

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I’m glad we don’t have those issues here in the Northwest.  And farmers are very practical people.  They aren’t going to do anything that costs money without a good reason.  If they don’t need to spray they aren’t going to spray; spraying is expensive, both in the cost of the chemicals and in the cost of applying them.  Why would you pay for that if you don’t have to?  The crop dries on its own for free.

And, just to make sure, we randomly test for pesticide residue. Since our ingredients have been diverted from the human food chain, we can dodge that bullet more easily.