Wheat: The Grain with the Golden Promise
Wheat (Triticum vulgare) is a fundamental part of Indian food and provides sustenance to more than half the human population. Daana sells traditional Indian wheat variety Bansi that is grown biodynamically and with no chemicals. Bansi is a hardy and pest resistant variety of wheat. It is an ancient and time-honoured variety of wheat, free of gluten allergens. There is a huge demand for it in the West.
A field of golden wheat has inspired many an artist. Did you know Vincent van Gogh used to paint wheat fields to find a sense of calm. On the symbolism of wheat in life he says, “We who live by the bread, are we not very much like wheat, to be reaped when we are ripe ?”
Interestingly, before it became a staple food, wheat was seen as a grass seed that could be fed to the cattle so that they give better milk and meat. The wild grass ancestors of wheat are einkorn, goat grass and squarossa. The wheat we eat comes from the gene pool of all three.
Organic wheat helps the body build better defences against environmental stress as it does not contain any chemicals. Amounts of antioxidants and minerals are higher in organic wheat.
Daana’s Organic Wheat comes from Prabhakar and Vimaltai’s farm in Dhamori, Maharashtra. They have been growing wheat with seeds of traditional varieties that have been preserved, and passed down through generations in their family. Their land is entirely rain-fed and does not use any borewells that deplete groundwater.
India is the second largest producer of wheat after China. Indian wheat has high gluten strength and is uniformly golden. Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are the highest wheat producing states are called the ‘Granaries of India’ or India’s ‘bread basket’. In India 25 million hectares are dedicated to wheat crop and many varieties are grown including Sharbati, Sonara, Pusa Lerma, Arjun, Pratap, Janak, Mukta, Shera etc. The country has exported wheat worth Rs. 448.4 crores / 67.32 USD millions during the year of 2016-17 to countries like United Kingdom, Nepal, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates and Somalia.
Wheat is an ancient crop of India and has been grown here since the Indus Valley Civilisation. For thousands of years wheat continued to be the staff of life for millions. Food was available in plenty. Well fed people settled down to serious family life. Large families became the norm. Population was doubling every 25 years. Towards the end of the 1700s things took a turn for the worse. To avert the threat of a catastrophic food crisis in the world, Norman Borlaug, a wheat breeder of Dupont Defence lab was put on the task of developing a high yielding variety of wheat. He found it in 1965 triggering a “Quiet Wheat Revolution” in Mexico and then a massive Green revolution in South Asia. The golden grain went on to save many lives from the jaws of death.
From the status of a saviour crop, wheat has lost some of its shine in the 21st century. Low-carb, no-carb diets and the surge of gluten allergies in recent years has made consumers somewhat cautious about wheat consumption. But, there is a growing body of research that says that gluten may not after all be guilty for the allergies in humans.
Biopiracy of Indian wheat by Monsanto is well-known. The multinational company is nicknamed ‘chapatti chor’ in India as they have tried to patent the Indian wheat which is free of gluten allergies and is also climate resilient. Monsanto’s application was rejected as patenting of natural produce is against the Indian Patent law.
Wheat is a rabi crop that is sown in the beginning of winter and harvested in the beginning of summer. Sowing and harvesting times vary as per the agro-climatic conditions of that region. It requires a cool climate and minimal rainfall. Wheat needs well-drained loamy soils. Soils variants like clay loams, sandy loams and black soils also give a good crop. Thus you will find wheat growing in Gangetic alluvium, Indus alluvium, hilly regions, black soils of central plains and the desert regions. Wheat grows in wide range of climatic conditions and can tolerate severe cold conditions during the growing season but needs warmth during maturity.
Wheat provides balanced nutrition as it is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. Whole wheat is high in fibre about 12-15%. Most of this is in hemi-cellulose form and only small amounts of fructan are present.
Ar Daana, organic wheat procured from our network of farmers is first kept in cold storage to eliminate all pests. Then it comes to our processing unit. Here it is cleaned and sieved by a team of women to remove the smaller shrivelled, damaged grains, and all other non wheat material including stones and mud pellets. The wheat is made into flour on demand. Whenever there is an order, the required quantity is ground under personal supervision in Daana’s own stone mill. It is then packed and shipped to you, fresh from the mill. Every packet has details of when the wheat was harvested and packed.
Check out this recipe for Gobi paratha. It tastes so much better when you use organic, whole wheat, stone ground aata.
For more recipes, click here.