Tag Archives: wheat

Lent 2010

Well, Lent is now over and I have done it! For the last forty days and forty nights I have given up wheat as a staple food and I’m feeling better for it too.

Both me and my mother gave it up and we have both said that we have felt less tired because of it, which is a nice plus. We decided to give it up as a staple food because wheat production is not sustainable, it uses too much oil to grow and far to much of the world is reliant on it to feed themselves.

When I decided to give up wheat for lent I had thought it would mean eating lots more fresh greens but that hasn’t quite worked out, it just isn’t the right time of year for that. For the first few days I spent a lot of time feeling hungry again not long after eating but that didn’t last for long and the hardest meal has been lunch, I’m not very organised about taking a packed lunch to work and normally I get some sort of wheat product so instead I have been getting microwave porridge and having that with fruit and honey.

Now the harder part begins, I don’t want to give up wheat as a staple forever but I don’t want to go back to being so reliant on it either. There must be a happy middle ground though, so I will just have to work on finding it.

Lent rules

Ok, I am now on day two of Lent and am doing ok even when I got home from work yesterday and forgot and raided the fridge, I did stop myself in time. Today I stocked up on rice cakes as I did miss having a snack, normally a sandwich, to eat when I got home from work yesterday. I also got a few others bits.

I am giving up wheat as a staple not wheat for Lent, so those are the rules that I have for myself in my head after taking a look in the cupboards.

I cannot eat: bread, noodles, cake, pasta, pizza but of course if I can make these things without wheat flour then I can.

I can eat: stock cubes, soy sauce, hot chocolate, flavoured potato crisps.

I was going to get some peanut butter and honey to go on my rice cakes but couldn’t find a UK blend of honey among the blended honey from almost everywhere else in the world so I go an interesting looking apple and pear pure fruit spread which is not, although a little sweet if you spoon it on in the fashion that I do with almost everything.

I have started posting what I am eating in my facebook page and twitter feed (appears on the right hand side also)

Sustainable food

The UK relays on three main foods; wheat, potatoes and rice. Since reading this in Permaculture in a Nutshell I have noticed how true this is, the main staple of most of our meals is one of these, and often a meal includes more than one of these three.

The way that wheat is grown takes a lot of oil; so does the way that potatoes are grown commercially in this country. Rice growing requires a lot of water and land is often flooded to produce rice. When I was in Kenya we visited a wetland that had been reduced to make way for rice paddy fields. Rice is the main food staple for half the world population and although I haven’t found any figures on it, I would imagine that wheat makes up a great deal of the stamp diets of the other half as I did find out that wheat now covers more of the land than any other kind of plant, so a guess that half of the world relay on it as a food staple doesn’t sound so out landish.

Relaying so heavily on so few foods is clearly very dangerous, just imagine what the results of a mass failure of rice one year would cause? Or what the Irish potato famine was like, but then scale that up for half of the world’s population. There are of course other factors that could cause a crop failure, e.g. weather or pollination failure.

And then there are the resources these foods take to grow and the impact that monocropping has on wildlife and soil fertility. I have yet to meet or read about any smallholder, veggie grower or allotmenteer who just grows one crop to get them through the year. Instead I would case it has one of the many pleasures of growing or producing your own food is that you get to try different things, some might not do so well in your area, so you try another, or you might not favour the taste / size / shape / colour of a variety, so you try another. 

It is will all this in mind that I have decided to give up wheat (as a staple) for lent. Why wheat not rice or potatoes? I eat a lot more wheat than rice, and potatoes, well, I like them too much to give them up right now. I am not going to give up wheat completely either, just were it is a main ingredient. When I started to look at what I wasn’t going to be able to eat if I gave it up completely, there was very little left I could eat without buying specialised food, and that really isn’t the point of giving up wheat.

My aim for giving up wheat as a staple is to make myself less dependant on it as a food sources, after all I can’t grow it. Lent starts on Wednesday so if you know of any nice food that doesn’t included wheat please let me know.