We spent a lot of our time talking about creating sustainable gardens at home. Interestingly enough, there are two foods that are missing from practically every home garden. These are foods which we use every day; however, no one grows them at home.
What are these foods that we rely on quite regularly but do not grow? Sugar and flour.
As a society, we use sugar in almost everything from our morning coffee to our favorite soft drink to many of the processed foods we consume. Flour is another integral ingredient essential for baking breads and many other common food items.
If you are one of the many that does not currently grow these crops at home, good for you! They are not crops that are good for your health nor do well in home garden environments anyway. Let’s take a look at each of these crops to determine exactly why they are not practical in most situations.
Let’s start off by stating a little-known, but important, fact about growing your own wheat. Believe it or not, it’s illegal to grow wheat at home.
In the 1930s, a law was enacted that prohibited US citizens from growing wheat at home unless the crop was properly documented and the associated fees were paid on an annual basis (surprise surprise) to artificially inflate commercial wheat prices.
Yes, large corporations like Monsanto have been influencing regulations since before you can remember. Their latest regulatory ventures have ensured their monopoly of genetically modified seeds.
But we digress…
The 1930s law represents a very gray area, but even as recently as 1995, people have been ordered to pay fines and destroy personal wheat crops following the 1940 Wickard v. Filburn Supreme Court decision.
Commercial wheat operations are often very traumatic to otherwise fertile land because they rely heavily on commercial pesticides and fertilizers for production.
So not only is growing your own wheat illegal unless you decide to jump through some bureaucratic hoops, it is also relatively difficult to manage in a home environment – especially when we strive for organic processes whenever possible.
Sucrose (table sugar) has absolutely no nutrition value. Like flour, commercial sugarcane operations are devastating to local land. Worse yet, the pesticides used in commercial sugarcane production are responsible for numerous cases of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) every year.
In addition to the difficulties inherent to growing your own sugarcane, the refining process sets the tone for just how unhealthy sugar is. Countless chemicals are added to create table sugar and the result is a product that provides absolutely no nutritional value and it is one of the only “foods” that the human body treats as both a carbohydrate and a fat simultaneously. This can lead to complications including diabetes.
Another common sugar is fructose. Although fructose is found naturally in fruits and vegetables, you may know it best by its use in popular soft drinks (high fructose corn syrup). It is also found in natural sweeteners such as honey – a sweeter many people trying to lead a healthy lifestyle rely on frequently as a natural sugar substitute.
Unfortunately, fructose is not necessarily good for the body. It can only be broken down by the liver and some studies have shown that it can be as harmful for the liver as chronic alcohol use. Experts recommend a daily fructose intake of only 25 g; a figure that can be exceeded with just a couple pieces of fruit in some cases.
You may be thinking – “But I eat raw sugar, isn’t that healthier?” In a word… No. Unfortunately, raw sugar is one of those products designed to trick the public into thinking they’re making a healthier choice. Raw sugar, even found in health food stores, is nothing more than table sugar with molasses mixed in. Some companies go so far as to use a special crystallization process to give this “raw” sugar the appearance of unrefined sugar. But make no mistake; it is no healthier than common white table sugar.
What’s the Solution?
Now that you know that growing wheat can be illegal and that sugar is unhealthy anyway, what’s the solution? After all, morning coffee is pretty bland without a spoonful of sugar and dinner rolls go with practically any meal.
In terms of flour, cut it from your diet. The refining of wheat into flour adds bleach and eliminates any nutritional value. In fact, recent research is showing that wheat (at least the commercial GMO wheat that is impossible to escape) is about as bad for you as sugar.
If you’re stuck on it, consider growing wheat grasses. These do not fall under federal guidelines and are much easier to grow successfully in a home garden environment.
As much as it pains me to say this, we can all do without sugar. Although it tastes good, it has zero nutritional value and can impact our health adversely. It’s difficult to be self-sufficient when you depend on weekly dialysis treatments because of complications due to excessive sugar intake and who knows – dialysis treatment may not always be available anyway.
The point is simply that these foods are not essential. In the short term, we can procure flour or raw wheat in other ways while using our gardens for other food items. Just as rabbits are a much more sustainable protein option compared to beef, sugar and wheat are highly inefficient in our own gardens (no matter how good they taste).
Eating simple, natural foods helps to ensure our health and resiliency in the future. Don’t feel bad if you have omitted these items from your garden as your space is much better used with more traditional and nutritional crops that provide significant health benefits and a sustainable way of life.