The unvarnished story of agriculture and money
30,000BC ------------------2.2 teeth missing on average based on skeletal remains; “flatbread” made from the roots of a starchy plant similar to potatoes was used to supplement diet
22,000BC ------------------Wild wheat and wild barley are being collected, ground and consumed in the Fertile Crescent region.
10,000BC-------------------As the last Ice Age was coming to an end, agriculture - which is to say the development of a complex system of sowing, watering, hybridizing, harvesting and storing of cereal-based seed crops together with the domestication of animals - begins in what is known today as the Fertile Crescent. [NOTE: We are separating gardening or the planned cultivation of root crops- which appears to have occurred in South East Asia around the same time - from agriculture.] Seed crop cultivation marked the beginning of the "First Agricultural Revolution" which is considered to be the spark that lit the flame of civilization.
Richard Manning, in his book Against the Grain observes that, Cultivated grain, more so than any other food humans had consumed before, was storable, not just through the year, but from year to year. It is hard to overstate the importance of this simple fact as it would play out through the centuries, later making possible such developments, for instance, as the provisioning of armies. But the immediate effect of storage was to make wealth possible. . .
The first basic crop of the fertile crescent region was wheat, which has two main forms that exist today: emmer, which still grows wild in the region, and bread wheat, which probably emerged from the crossing of emmer with another wild grass. Although scholars are debating the date of the earliest domestication of wheat, all of them agree, and the evidence is abundant, that by ca 10,400 years ago, domesticated wheat was in widespread use throughout the Levant region. Today bread wheat is the most important crop on earth.
Most archaeologists agree that there are eight plants, called “founder crops”, that emerged from the Fertile Crescent region. They include three cereals (einkorn wheat, emmer wheat and barley); four legumes (lentil, pea, chickpea and bitter vetch); and one oil and fiber crop (flax or linseed). These crops could all be classed as grains which as a class possess numerous "anti-nutrients."
Included among these anti-nutrients are phytates and enzyme disrupters which have traditionally been dealt with by soaking, fermenting and cooking. In addition we have certain types of lectins (carbohydrate-binding or "sticky" proteins) that are increasingly being associated with any number of health problems. The two subclasses of lectins having the greatest negative impact on health are prolamins, of which gluten is a member - and agglutinin of which Wheat Germ Agglutinin, soy lectin and kidney bean lectin are all members. These types of lectins serve much like "invisible thorns" that damage our cells and contribute to acute and chronic inflammatory disorders such as neurodegenerative disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. GMO and intensively hybridized cereal grasses tend to be highest in these damaging lectins. Importantly, researchers are finding that the traditional methods of soaking, fermenting and cooking are not enough to counter the negative effects of the various anti-nutrients - particularly lectins - that are found within this family of plants. Another anti-nutrient is Amylopectin A, which is a "supercarbohydrate" found in intensively hybridized modern wheat. Amylopectin A serves as an appetite stimulant and "insulin stimulant" by working harder and faster than any other complex carb to increase blood sugar. Still another anti-nutrient is gliadin, one of two proteins found in gluten, which has opiate-like properties that induce appetite, and behavioral changes such as: #1, behavioral outbursts in children with ADHD and autism, #2, the hearing of voices and social detachment of schizophrenics and #3, the mania of bipolar illness. Last on the list of anti-nutrients are the "exitotoxins" glutamic and aspartic acids which serve as neurotransmitters and which can, via damaged intestines or total body overload, lead to MSG-like symptoms. They can also lead to migraine headaches, and lower the pain threshold in people with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain syndromes. Food-sourced aspartic and glutamic acid can do the very same thing as MSG additives; it just takes a bit longer for them to reach the brain. An excess of aspartate can result in excess glutamate (the form of glutamic acid that exists within the body) due to the fact that the body can convert aspartate directly to glutamate - and as neuroscientists are well aware, an excess of naturally occurring glutamate is known to be a problem in many disease states of the body. While glutamic acid is found in most foods, it is most abundant in gluten grains (wheat, barely, rye) as well as soy, and casein (from dairy, particularly Casein 1-dominant cattle used by the commercial dairy industry due to high milk productivity). The necessary conversion within the body of glutamate to glutamine (and back again) will be severely impaired by sub-optimally functioning kidneys, liver and intestines. See also PH or acid/alkaline balance.
The Fertile Crescent describes an area of land roughly occupied by modern Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. North of the Arabian Desert and west of the Zagros Mountains, this area is irrigated by several rivers, most notably the Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq and Syria, and the Nile in Egypt.
The two major river basins are connected by the Levant, a stretch of fertile land along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, to form a green crescent-like shape. Once among the most fertile agricultural lands on Earth, the crescent remains visible from space today.
Normally, the ebb and flow of plant and animal populations encouraged people to move around, following them. The Nile, however, experienced fairly predictable annual floods, and the Tigris and Euphrates regularly overflowed and irrigated the surrounding land, now called Mesopotamia.
Aided by the first domesticated animals, people found that they could settle in fixed communities, eating the harvested produce of one year’s floods while waiting for the next year’s crop to grow.
They helped this process along with irrigation ditches, encouraging the production of wheat and barley, which they supplemented with figs and dates. Cows, meanwhile, demanded an increasing quantity of domesticated grass, in order to provide enough meat and milk for a rapidly growing human population.
8,000BC ------------------ Tokens dating back to about 8000BC have been found all over the Near East, and are believed to have been part and parcel of the Neolithic phenomenon; that is, the so-called agricultural revolution. . . The earliest tokens were simple shapes and stood for basic agricultural commodities such as grain and sheep. . .The standardization of tokens meant that they had great power for record-keeping and contracts in a way that counting pebbles or twigs would not do. A collection of tokens could represent a future promised transaction, or be kept in an archive (in a temple or palace) as a record of a past transaction.
Also during this period, wheat cultivation began to spread out beyond the Fertile Crescent. In addition and for the next 3000 years or so, alternative cereal-based agricultural systems began to appear independently in other parts of the world, including rice in East Asia and maize in the Americas.
In his book Against the Grain, Richard Manning points out that The same pattern [of extreme wealth and extreme poverty characterizing cereal-based agricultural systems] emerges worldwide, one of the few key indicators that, for the first time in human history, some people were more highly regarded than others. [In other words] agriculture conferred social status – or, more important, more goods – to a few people. . . Wealth, as distinct from abundance, is one of those dichotomous ideas only understood in the presence of its opposite, poverty. If we are to seek ways in which humans differ from all other species this dichotomy would lead the list. Manning continues: The notion that agriculture created poverty is not an abstraction, but one borne out by the agricultural record. [This is a striking fact inasmuch as] agriculture arose less from actual need than from abundance, with the Garden of Eden being the first example, yet says Manning, the persistence of famines clearly shows that hunger has always been a way of life in agricultural societies.
My note: "regenerative" carbon-sequestering agriculture, properly applied, together with a judicious use of select modern technologies and a more "democratic" monetary system can put an end to this historical reality.
NB: Archeologists are able to determine the approximate dates agriculture was adopted by a community by comparing skeletons of pre-agricultural hunter-gatherers to those of neighboring agriculture-dependent groups. They found that agricultural ancestors, wherever they lived, became smaller, their bones weaker and more diseased and that the size of their brains, based on head circumference, have diminished by approximately 11% since the advent of agricultural societies. As recorded by Drs. Alan and Lutz in their book Life Without Bread : “At the beginning of the [paleolithic] preagricultural period, the anthropologist Lawrence Angel found that adult males averaged 5 feet 11 inches in height and adult females about 5 feet 6 inches. Twenty thousand years later, after agriculture and carbohydrate consumption were abundant, the males averaged 5 feet, six inches and the females averaged 5 feet. . . Tooth loss at death shows a similar trend. . . These trends suggest that health was compromised by the introduction of large amounts of carbs into the diet, and that the negative effects were experienced from the beginning. . . "
7000BC-------------------- By around 7000 to 5000 b.c.e. the settled human population had grown large enough to support the first permanent settlements. In ancient Egypt the Nile was revered as part of the primeval sea, which gave way to a primeval hill, on which humankind built some of the first cities, such as Memphis (c. 3500 b.c.e.).
Mesopotamian origin myths went one step further, treating Eridu (settled around 5400 b.c.e.) as the world’s first city. In fact, the oldest continually-inhabited cities are not along the major river valleys at all, but in the Levant, where Damascus, Syria, and Jericho, Israel, boast histories of as much as 9,000 years. [That is to say, the cities in the Levant region arose around 7000BC.]
6,500BC ------------------3.5 teeth missing on average from skeletal remains of agricultural communities. Archeologists have traced the first known instances of surplus farming to about 8500 years ago, or 6500BC. An intriguing announcement in June of 2000 said that Archaeologists believe they have uncovered the world's oldest city in a remote part of Syria. Dating back to 6,000BC, . . . the huge settlement, called Hamoukar, is located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, an area known throughout ancient history as northern Mesopotamia. The city spread over 750 acres and is believed to have been home to up to 25,000 people. . . . One of the most astonishing finds has been of double-walled living quarters to encourage air flow, suggesting the inhabitants had designed their own air-conditioning system to combat summer temperatures of more than 40C.
5000BC ---- According to the ancient Sumerians, the "city" of Eridu arose in 5400BC. Modern-day scholars (notwithstanding the discovery of Hamoukar mentioned above) still consider the Mesopotamian cities of Uruk (@4500BC) and Ur (@3800BC) to be the first true cities. In either case, and by 5000BC, irrigation of agricultural crops was fully developed in the fertile crescent region. Irrigation of course resulted in increased production which in turn resulted in impressive accumulations of wealth (and its opposite, poverty) generated equally from domesticated cereal grasses and animals. Barley and other cereals were fed to cattle as well as humans.
These and related developments occurred just before the "urban revolution" of the late 4th millennium, and likely made this revolution both possible and necessary. Slavery was an integral part of these ancient civilizations and pictorial impressions of war captives suggesting slavery date back to the fourth millennium b.c.
It was In these early cities, especially in Eridu and Urak [Uruk], that people first manifested the high degree of cooperative effort necessary to make urban life possible. Both cities reflected the evidence of this cooperation in the dikes, walls, irrigation canals, and temples which date from the fourth millennium. An efficient agricultural system made it possible to free large numbers of people from the land, and the cities of ancient Sumer produced social structures comprised largely of freemen who met in concert to govern themselves. The early Sumerian cities were characterized by a high degree of social and economic diversity, which gave rise to artisans, merchants, priests, bureaucrats and, for the first time in history, professional soldiers. The ancient Sumerians were a polyglot of ethnic peoples, much like in the United States.
Also around 5000BC, einkorn wheat as a food source was abandoned because it is difficult to harvest and mill - and it had only 1/5 the yields of emmer wheat and its hybrids. Although studies have certainly been mixed, celiac.com says that, based on recent studies, Einkorn MAY eventually prove to be a safe alternative for those with celiac disease. Einkorn.com says that those with "gluten sensitivity" report diminished or no reaction with consumption of Einkorn wheat food products. Note that a more academic discussion of celiac and its companion diseases targets rye, barely, wheat, including Einkorn, and related grains as being the most problematic to human health. It also says that gluten is but one "anti-nutrient" in these foods that is causing problems.
3400BC -------------priests have become the rulers of Mesopotamian cities and the temple is the center of commercial, social and ceremonial functions. Goods having monetary (or barter) value such as cattle, grain and precious metals, were stored in the temples with the eventual result being that temples accumulated over time an oversupply of precious metals and gold in particular. Religious activities, such as festivals, were the main social gatherings of the time and these occasions were often used to distribute surplus food and supplies to the populace of the city. The priests of the temple, who were also the rulers of the city from about 3400 BCE, were responsible for this distribution and relied heavily on the farmers of the region to supply such surplus as they needed (a role which would eventually be taken over by the king, as royalty superseded the priestly class in power in the third millennium BCE with the emergence of the warrior-king known as the 'Lugal’, meaning “Big Man”). Per Mesopotamian scholar and economist Michael Hudson, another important role of priests was to establish relationships of value between commodities.
Clay tablets dating as far back as 3500BC were used to record the earliest writings of mankind. Mesopotamia is believed to be the birthplace of modern civilization, with the great city of Ur founded around 4,000 B.C. by the people of Sumer, a "providence" of Mesopotamia. Ur was a cultural and commercial center millennia before the rise of the Greek and Roman civilizations, and is thought to be the home of the biblical Abraham. These areas today lay in modern Iraq along the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers.
Clay tablets were made from earth and water, inscribed while wet with a stick-like stylus, then sun-baked to preserve the cuneiform markings. The clay tablets of Mesopotamia extend over a 3,000-year period, are written in several languages, and provide a fascinating window into early civilization. From administrative records to sales receipts, schoolbooks to private letters, dictionaries to astronomy, the clay tablets of Mesopotamia allow modern scholars invaluable insight into our past. . . Though clay tablets served as the notepads of their day, the ancient Egyptians had discovered the forerunner to paper as early as 4,000 B.C. Papyrus was made from a plant that grew along the Nile River, however, the Egyptians valued their papyrus-making secret so much, it was the one thing they never wrote down.
Excess production of the countryside not only supplied the population of the city with food but also increased long-distance trade with other cities along the Euphrates such as Tikrit and Eridu. As urbanization continued, however, the need for more and yet more raw materials depleted the natural resources of the region and, eventually, led to a lack of necessary assets and the abandonment of the city.
The constant battle for power amongst the city-states themselves caused city residents to erect walls for protection, but the true reason for their warring were the rivers, everyone wanted control of the rivers, and some areas along the two rivers were more desirable than others. These rivers at a later stage even opened up trade routes for people in the region of Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamian fertile crescent holds a great significance in building up of the world as we see it today. The fertile crescent of Mesopotamia was the beginning - or as it is known, truly the "cradle of civilizations".
Zarlenga adds: The form of social and economic organization taken by these early urban communities in Egypt, Assyria and Sumeria is known as the Ancient Oriental System. It embraced the "concept of a living king as the divine representative and savior of the whole human race, who had the power to organize the welfare of the whole world." A powerful Royal household, in conjunction with its temple hierarchy, held centralized control over the economy. Compulsory labor service could be required for public works, and the Pharaos instructed what and how much to plant, and how much of the harvest would go into storage. Thus, the evolution of the economic system in general was itself largely influenced by the religious factor. . . Even after the oriental societies faltered, the temple cults, which had performed necessary functions for the Royal households, continued to exert an oriental influence on money systems. [These temple cults] developed earliest and most powerfully in Egypt and Mesopotamia. (The Lost Science of Money, pages 11-14)
3000BC -------------By 3000BC the token system had evolved into complex systems of numbers, capable of recording very large quantities of goods, leading to cuneiform script around 2500Bc and a fully developed mathematics by around 2000BC, or the Old Babylonian period. By the third millenium BC cities began to band together under a common leadership, creating the first empires with increasingly complex hierarchies and political organizations.
By 2900BCE the city of Ur had become a walled city with a population of approximately 65,000. Urbanization, however, continued as the city expanded out from the center and, in time, the once fertile fields which fed the populace were depleted. The over-use of the land, combined with a mysterious shift in the Euphrates which drew the waters away from the city, resulted in the complex finally being abandoned around 500 BCE. Eridu, for perhaps similar reasons, was abandoned in 600 BCE and Uruk in 650 BCE. Though many factors no doubt contributed to the decline of cities such as Ur . . . it has been suggested that urbanization and, especially, the over-use of the surrounding lands for farming, was a central cause.
The period between 3000 to 2316 B.C., the date that Sargon the Great united all of Sumer into a single state . . was marked by almost constant wars among the major city-states and against foreign enemies.
An extensive trade network was by this time well established within the fertile crescent region, eventually developing into the "Silk Road."
The first known money used by Egypt for commercial transactions was gold, while in Mesopotamia there were several types of money already in use, these being barley, lead, copper, bronze, tin, silver and gold. The most dominant of these money types were barley and silver, which were used as common denominators of value. Barley, being difficult to transport and more varied in value across distances and time, was used mainly for local trade. Silver, like the gold used as money in Egypt, was used for commercial trade. The well-known Code of Hammurabi, circa 1780BC, shows that interest rates on loans of barley were substantially higher than on silver: 33.3% vs 20%.
Mesopotamian scholar Michael Hudson notes that, despite periodic "Jubilees" canceling barley debts, the history of ancient agrarian usury shows repeatedly that the usufructs ‑‑ and increasingly, the collateral ‑‑ were reaped by creditors. . . For good reason, Aristotle observed, the most hated form of money-making 'is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural use of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term Usury, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money, because the offspring resembles the parent'. . . The [resulting] monopolization of money and land in the hands of creditors found its counterpart in the descent of large numbers of cultivators into debt bondage. . . Creditors often broke up families by taking away their servant girls, daughters, sons or mother as debt pledges, while they themselves refrained from marrying in order to keep their own family fortunes intact. In effect, they became servants of their own wealth. The naditu heiresses of the Old Babylonian period lived in temple precincts in order to invest their families’ money rather than marry and convey it out of their clan. Today, four thousand years later, one need only read Henry James’s Washington Square or the novels of Charles Dickens and Honorée de Balzac to find psychological survivals of this literal barrenness of wealth.
Similarly, Perlin, in speaking to the idea of "using up the usufruct" via overuse of natural resources, says that most of the Ancient Middle East lost its forests by the end of the third millennium BCE, due to over-logging. He argues that this removed one of the fundaments under the ancient civilizations in the Middle East and as a consequence the centre of trade and power in the Mediterranean shifted to areas that still had sufficient reserves of timber: Crete and the Greek world. The kingdoms and empires in the Middle East started to import wood for timber, fuel and bronze from the island of Crete but in the long run this was not sustainable. Thus, The present worldwide depletion of forests and reafforestation of large parts of the developed world is a new chapter in an old story.
NB: For a discussion of usufruct and why that's important and how it driven by debt dominant monetary systems, see my book Climate Change, Land Use and Monetary Policy: The New Trifecta.
NB: The concepts of usury and the charging of interest as discussed by Aristotle in the above quotation are related to the concepts of “just trade” and "just price" which were defined much later by Aquinas and other Catholic scholars of the Middle Ages. To use a crude example of these ideas, we could say that a borrower/farmer goes to a lender requesting $150 so he, the borrower, could buy 3 pigs, whose worth in 1 year will be, say, $250 when sold for food, and as new piglets. While it is expected and natural that the pigs will birth new pigs, hence the ability to profit from the venture - the same was not true of money. Money - as Aristotle observed - was "sterile," and as such, could not "breed" new money. Thus, money, properly defined and used, is unable to "make a gain of itself". Or to put it another way, money cannot bear interest solely as a condition of its existence; it can bear interest only when its owner gives up its use in order to lend it to a borrower. In our crude "pig venture" example, interest fees would reflect compensation to the lender sufficient enough make up for his loss of the use of his money during the loan period. Refinement by the "Old Bookmen" or "Scholastics" (as Catholic scholars of the Middle Ages are sometimes called) clarified concepts of "just price" and "just trade." Just price (which was in essence a "cost of production price") ideally was structured so as to conform to the rules of a just trade which in turn required that the lender actually own - or have title to - that which he lent. Later the French physiocrats accepted and improved on the "just price" idea, by emphasizing the necessity of paying producers of raw materials a fair price. However, innovations in banking had by this time introduced the "fractional reserve system" which allows new "money" to be created via bank loans; that is to say "ex nihilo" or "out of nothing" (albeit anchored with some form of borrower collateral as insurance to the lender). This meant that "cost of production" now often included "the cost of money" - or borrowing costs. Moreover banking was now using other people's money to breed, in Aristotle's language, new money; Aquinas would argue that banking was now able to sell both money and the use of it. By injecting debt as income into the economy, these banking innovations dramatically altered the concepts of "just price" and "just trade." For example, in the fractional reserve deposit expansion system, the lender does not "own" what he lends - effectively eliminating the "just trade" concept. Simply put, the lender uses double entry book keeping together with what are known as "reserves" against which the lender can in effect expand the money-as-debt supply through fractional reserve deposit expansion, or as it is sometimes called fractional reserve money creation, via expansion of bank deposits which we usually think of as checking and savings accounts. This deposit expansion mechanism represents debt, and is not "money" in the real sense of the term, yet not only does it masquerade as money but said "debt/money" follows the "laws of exponential growth" discovered and understood by the ancient Babylonians. History shows that in societies which fail to honor "just price" and "just trade" rules, the well-known law of exponential growth will cause a society's debt to grow over time until it goes beyond a society's ability the pay, hence the ancient need for jubilees.
Today, about 97% of our nation's money supply is created through the fractional reserve deposit expansion system, allowing debt to explode and the banking system to dictate monetary policy. Under a sensible monetary system, such as what is described in Climate Change, Land Use and Monetary Policy The New Trifecta, private lending operations and monetary policy would have nothing in common.
Zarlenga comments on the contribution of Aristotle and the Scholastics toward a clearer understanding of money and usury:
In English the best word for the structural misuse of society's money system is usury. The current mis-definition of the term as taking excessive interest, shows how far we have been led from understanding this subject. . . . By the end of the medieval period, there were really only two important arguments against usury still standing: Aristotle's point that money was sterile and usury was counter to the purpose of money; and Aquinas' argument that the usurer could not sell both the money and the use of it. . . With an increasingly powerful moneylending class, and the Church's moral power weakened by corruption, it was just a matter of time - and money - before the floodgates were opened. By 1516 the idea of lending institutions charging interest for its services had been widely accepted. . . .[In direct contrast to Calvin's later argument the Scholastics had shown that it is the farm field and not the money that grows products.] . . . The Scholastics held back the usury deluge for centuries. One of their lasting contributions has been to identify that monetary and economic questions are profoundly moral issues. . . The attention that the Scholastics gave to morality was in stark contrast to the corruption in the hierarchy of the Church. pp186-189, Lost Science of Money
In summary, economics attracted the sustained attention of the Church's greatest intellectual talent. Their insistence on a a morally based business structure, and their focus on the problem of usury, raised earlier by Aristotle, probably spared later medieval European society the kind of ruin encountered by both Greece and Rome, in that regard. . . The complex logical structure which the Scholastics erected condemning usury was damaged by Martin Luther who adopted an over-simplified, unworkable ban on taking interest. But it was Calvin who destroyed and cast their work aside. Luther attacked and blamed the Jews: Calvinism elevated them and Deified the Bible. . .We saw that Calvin's bibliolatry, his deification of the Bible as the absolute word of God, set in motion forces that still affect us, especially in modern day America. . . In leaving the Scholastics, we especially note their inability to understand the monetary importance of bank created credits. Thus later thinkers and legal systems, looking back to the Scholastics for guidance, did not properly understand and limit the use of bank credits as money. pp202-203, Lost Science of Money
2500BC----------------Sometime around 2500BC a great migration developed upon what is known as the "Fertile Crescent," which was like a great arc of cultivable land that extended from the Persian gulf, up and around Mesopotamia and back down to Israel and Egypt. . . The major east-west trade routes were established along the Fertile Crescent. (See The Lost Science of Money by Stephen Zarlenga for a lengthy, well argued and wonderfully documented monetary discussion on the impact of this East-west trade on society.)
The Fertile Crescent also became an integral part of Biblical History. Abraham, the first Hebrew, actually followed this route from ancient Ur in Mesopotamia, up and around the Fertile Crescent to Haran and down to the land of Canaan. Abraham's journey, occurring sometime around the 18th century BC, marked the beginnings of Biblical history and the disappearance of the Sumerians.
About 500 years before Abraham, in 2300 B.C. Sargon the Great launched a campaign of military conquest that united all of Mesopotamia. Within a decade Sargon had extended his conquests from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea and northeastward to the Taurus Mountains of Turkey. Sargon the Great provided the world with its first example of a military dictatorship.
1000BC---------------The known world by this time reached as far west as Europe. When the armies of the east collided with the armies of the west it would happen somewhere along the Fertile Crescent.
As noted by Zarlenga, p15, "The newer Western societies organized themselves on a more individualistic basis than in the ancient Orient, functioning with less central control. Money took on more abstract forms in the West; advanced forms that were outside the monetary traditions of the Orient." It was within this melting pot of monetary experiments that both Plato and Aristotle came to understand "the paramount monetary principle - that the nature of money is a fiat of the law, an invention or creation of mankind and society, rather than a commodity." (Zarlenga, pp35)
400BC ----------------Hippocrates used a grain-free, legume-free diet to treat inflammatory disorders and arthritis. Also by this time, the early cities which grew up along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers lay mostly in ruins, this being due to endless war as well as things like earthquakes, flash floods and fire. But it was over-zealous urbanization and over-use of land that led to the ultimate abandonment of the cities of the Fertile Crescent. And as stated by economist Michael Hudson in an earlier quote, over-use of land (eating up the usufruct) was forced by the debt-dominant monetary system in place - then as now.
Roman Era, 763BC-476AD ---------6.6 teeth missing on average based on skeletal remains.
Early Rome courageously and boldly chose to isolate herself from the East via an independent, increasingly sophisticated monetary system but this fact remains shrouded in mystery and controversy even as new revelations continually come to light.
In the War for control of society's money power several battles have been fought in the arena of Roman numismatics. Today the field is littered with the debris of these skirmishes. Indeed, some principles involved in the early Roman monetary system still threaten the validity of the political economist's 'modern' economic and monetary doctrines. . . . [The fact is that] the one thing that truly set Rome apart was her monetary system.
The decision of Rome from a small village in the 8th century BC, to creator and ruler of the WORLD ORDER, resulted in large part from her bronze money. In the east, gold and silver were being coined as money, but Rome chose to base her money on bronze. . .and not just commodity bronze, but monetized pieces called the Nummi, or Nomisma. . .
The decision of Numa, Rome's second king (716-672BC), to institutionalize the use of bronze instead of gold and silver for money had far reaching consequences. Copper was much easier to get since much of the precious metals were stored away in the eastern temples.
But even more important was the disenfranchisement of the gold/silver hoards, and therefore much of the power of the eastern temples and merchants. This wouldn't be total because their gold and silver could still be traded in Rome as merchandise. But without the monetary power, gold would be limited to jewelry use and to Rome's needs in foreign trade. Thus the ability of the eastern temples or merchants to control or disrupt Rome's money would be greatly reduced and Rome would have a better chance to control her own destiny. . .
At first Rome's monetary independence had only a domestic effect: 'The busy farmers of the (Roman) plain seem all the while to have cut themselves off from contact with the Phoenician traders who so constantly bartered with the neighboring cities of Etruria,' wrote Tenney Frank in his Economic History of Rome.
But as her power grew the policy gained international significance:
'The Roman adoption of a national and exclusive copper coinage produced a revolution in the monetary system of all civilized nations; for as the Roman conquests spread we find the gold and silver coinages of other countries disappearing and the Roman copper with Roman weights and measures taking their place, and that with a rapidity truly astonishing,' wrote Humphreys in "Ancient Coins and Medals." . . .
Humphreys summed it up:
'As the Spartans . . .are said to have adopted iron money, the Romans, who have been otherwise compared to that people, adopted copper in contempt of the gold and silver of their neighbors, which they were acquainted with but would not adopt. . . foreign money of gold and silver circulated in Rome from the earliest period.' But these coins were not money in Rome; they were merely merchandise. . .
Later, during and after Numa's reign, the money system progressed to cast bronze, and marked bronze bars, and over time it became an abstract system where limited issues of coins had a value much higher that their commodity value.
'. . . the Roman monetary system was a numerary one, and the numismatic relics which have so long been regarded by the learned world as copper coins, were essentially irredeemable notes stamped (for lack of paper) on copper, and devised and designed to pass in exchanges for a much greater value than that of the material of which they were composed,' wrote Alexander Del Mar.
. . .More than 500 years after her founding, in about 218 BC at the start of the Hannabalic crisis, Rome borrowed gold jewelry from her wealthier citizens and minted her first gold coinage. . .
Pliny later blasted the new gold coinage:
The next crime committed against the welfare of mankind, was on the part of him who was first to coin a Denarius of gold. A crime the author of which is unknown. . . would that gold could have been banished forever from the earth, accursed by universal report, reviled by the reproaches of all the best men, and looked upon as discovered only for the ruin of mankind.
Pliny's anger seems strange today, but the life or death struggle with Carthage presented opportunities for an emerging plutocracy to abuse Rome's monetary system and achieve its own ends at the expense of their society. . . .Over time, the Republic lost control of its money system to the temple establishments and associated private merchants, those who could control the commodities. Over time their interests would take precedence or be advance instead of the common good. . .
The 'commoditization' of Rome's money system dramatically accelerated the emergence of a plutocracy - a ruling order based on wealth. The commodities would by definition tend to be in the hands of the wealthy.
'We may infer that at Rome in 264BC, this class was not yet in existence, and that it came into existence in the course of the first bout of the Romano-Carthiginian war, thanks to lucrative contracts,' writes Toynbee, and he described how the inefficiencies in the Roman city-state organizational form made it easy to take advantage of the wartime emergency. . .
The new wealth amassed through monetary mischief and war contracts soon entrenched itself in ownership of large plantations known as latifundia, converting the fleeting monetary liquidity into permanent land holdings. . .
Italian agriculture, which had consisted mainly of small peasant holdings soon became a mixed system of large scale migratory herding between lowland and more mountainous regions, combined with large scale capital intensive plantation farming. The new capitalists and the old aristocracy invested in these activities, which were operated with the slave labor that became available in large numbers from the warfare. Between 264 and 146 BC, the number of new slaves available can be estimated at over 300,000.
While the 'opportunity' to use the available Roman owned land, the 'ager publicus,' was theoretically open to all citizens, in actuality only the wealthy could take advantage of the possibility. This left the ordinary citizen farmer out in the cold.
'The new Italy is a paradise for fruit trees and for profiteers and a comfortable berth for oxen, but it is a purgatory for evicted peasants and a hell for imported slaves,' wrote Toynbee. (pp39-66, The Lost Science of Money)
Through its system of plantation farming and its land acquisitions, the Roman Empire became known as the Wheat Empire, with its soldiers paid in wheat rations. As a punishment soldiers could be paid in barley instead of wheat.
The Romans during their later reign imported much of their crops from subject countries to keep the empire fed. After Rome conquered Egypt, they were able to import enough wheat to give free grain to all of the one million Romans living in the capitol. Rome needed a large amount of food to supply its large population. Much of this grain was imported from North Africa, especially Egypt. The Romans had to control the Mediterranean Sea to insure that the needed food supplies were able to flow freely from Africa to Italy. . .
By as early as 100 B.C. most farming was already being done on large estates as small family farms gave way to economic ruin. The owners of these large estates often lived in town for the majority of the year. A manager, called a vilicus, supervised the farm work on the estate. Another person, the villica, would be in charge of the household. Often the villica and the villicus were slaves. The work on the estates was done in large part by slave laborers. Over ninety percent of the Romans lived and worked in the countryside. Especially from the second century AD onward, economic conditions for small farmers became so untenable that more and more of these small, family-owned farms were simply abandoned or bought up by the wealthy, who usually governed their estates from the town where they resided using others to do the actual work. Economic and political power became concentrated in the Roman Empire's largest city, Rome, which served as capital of the Empire. Soil depletion is one of the reasons often given for the decline of the Roman Empire.
Zarlenga makes the following observation concerning Rome's Decline:
Our monetary interpretation of the decline of the Roman Empire is based on two important, but little known monetary mechanisms of great antiquity. The first was the sacred gold coinage prerogative, well documented by authorities in the field. The second was the difference in the gold/silver ration between east and west - the "monetary secret of the ages."
The sacred gold coinage prerogative of later Rome provides a dramatic example of how religious and monetary power continued to overlap. For over 12 centuries coining gold was regarded as the exclusive prerogative of the supreme sovereign, and was a jealously guarded privilege of the Caesars as Pontifex Maximus for 300 hundred years; and then in the east, as Basileus, for nearly 900 years more. Infringements on this power, which were extremely rare, were met with death or warfare. According to Del Mar, the phenomenon 'ascends to the Archimenides of Persia (Cyrus and Darius), in fact it ascends to the Brahmins of India. . . The Greek and Roman Republics broke it down; Caesar set it up again. . .'
The second ancient mechanism was the monetary 'secret of the ages' - a difference in the gold/silver ratio between east and west. For thousands of years this mechanism was a great source of power to whoever held it. Elements of the Roman establishment drew great strength from their control over it, until its effects helped bring down Rome from within. Venice's profits from it helped spark the Renaissance. It was quietly used for centuries by Jewish merchants getting transplanted from Asia into Europe. Control over it helped shift the balance of commercial power in Europe in 1500 from Venice to Portugal/Antwerp, then to Holland, and finally to England. In short, it was one of the primary forces that shaped modern capitalism.
It worked like this: The gold/silver ratio in the West was kept high, ranging over millennia, from 9 to 1, to 16 to 1. However, the ratio in India and Asia was kept low - usually about 6 or 7 to 1. This meant that silver taken from Europe to India exchanged for nearly twice as much gold in India as it did in Europe. The nexus of the trade was the land bridge above the Middle East; whoever controlled that area usually controlled the trade.
If it was controlled from the West, they got 100% more gold for their silver than the local value. It worked just as well from the East. If they controlled the trade they received 100% more silver for their gold. If control was shared, trade would probably have been a 9 to 1 ratio, giving each establishment a profit on exchange.
The existence of this dichotomy is almost unknown. (pp83-86, Lost Science of Money)
Mesopotamian scholar Michael Hudson speaks to the issue of growing revolts against the accumulated power of creditors thusly: The power of creditors increased in the face of declining royal authority. Although the normal lending rate declined from Bronze Age Mesopotamia through classical Greece and Rome, creditors were able to render irreversible the forfeiture of land and personal freedom which debtors traditionally had been obliged to pledge as a condition for obtaining loans. In sum, what is first documented in Sumer is a revolutionary institution, revolutionary in that interest-bearing debt ended up by inciting populations to revolution at the end of antiquity, in the second and first centuries BC throughout the Romanized Mediterranean world.
700 to 800AD--------------- The three field system of agriculture made its appearance in western Europe. Some historians have regarded this innovation as the greatest agricultural improvements in the region in all of the Middle Ages. In one sense it can be seen as the beginning of a chain of technical, agricultural and commercial consequences that converted European culture into a hothouse of institutional and technical change... Coupled with increased plowing of the fallow fields, agricultural production per working peasant increased by nearly 50 percent. The system increased the land that a peasant could handle with his labor leading to reclamation of swamps, clearings of forests and the creation of polders or reclaimed land by construction of dikes on locations such as Holland. Inclusion of oats in the crop rotation system provided food for horses, which were increasingly used in agriculture in Europe, a practice made possible by the introduction of the horse collar and the horseshoe.
The Middle Ages (roughly 400Ad to 1500Ad) also saw the development of merchant banks, which were actually the original banks, having been invented in the Middle Ages by Italian grain merchants. These merchants, as well as Jewish traders fleeing persecution in Spain, used merchant banking to finance long trading journeys as well as the production of grain. Today commercial banks serve the requirements of the general public, like individuals, small-scale entrepreneurs and so on. However, merchant banks, generally called investment banks tend to serve mostly the needs of large corporations or very rich people.
1700 ----------------The "new" agricultural revolution, involving the widespread adoption of the new four field system and the enclosure movement, coincides roughly with the industrial revolution. The enclosure movement begun in England together with the development of the four field system was seen as key to "improving efficiency" but also resulted in further concentration of wealth, driving many people off their lands, forcing them to flock to the cities in search of homes and jobs. Also, this new kind of agriculture doubled food production, thus leading to dramatic population growth in England in the 1700's. The combination of increased production and population growth in the cities created the labor supply for Britain's textile mills when the Industrial Revolution, which followed closely on the heels of the new agricultural revolution, began.
Dan Morgan of the now classic Merchants of Grain first published in 1979 tells the reader that his book was intended to contribute to a better understanding of a world in which nations all depend on each other for basic needs, and a few giant international companies and banks allocate and distribute the essential raw materials and the capital required to produce them. A bit later he remarks on the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the international grain trade, stating for example that The Industrial Revolution not only created a larger appetite for wheat and grain but also provided the wherewithal for merchants, farmers and mariners to satisfy it. [and] Although farm modernization progressed, England encountered the same experience that Japan and Russia were to know one century later. Agriculture could not keep up.
Colonial America, 18th and early 19th centuries-------------Average age of death of first settlers in Massachusetts was 71.8 years; according to contemporary reports, average factory workers in the New World consumed “feasts” in which meat was served twice daily. At about the same time the average age of death in Europe (where bread products together with sugar formed a significant part of the diet of the well-to-do) was 40 years of age. During the same period, average age of death was even lower among factory workers in European urban centers where factory workers saw meat once or at most twice a month if they saw it all. In sharp contrast to their American counterparts, the lifespan of these European factory workers was just 17 years, the same as slaves working the brutal sugar plantations in the Caribbean and South America. Americans – as noted by Thomas Jefferson - were also much taller than their European counterparts, averaging around a foot taller.
20th century American Farmer----------In his book A Life in the Day of An Editor, Charles Walters, trained economist and founder of Acres USA, zeroes in on the problem of 20th century American farmers by offering up a brief discussion of the "historical equations" known to "international manipulators," later expanded upon by Stephen Zarlenga in his Lost Science of Money during a discussion, mentioned earlier, of "the monetary secret of the ages."
[Farmers] simply did not understand economics, or the fact that international manipulators had their historical equations. The flagship was gold at $35 an ounce, set in concrete and sanctified by law. Harnessed to gold was silver, its home base being $1.29. These two anchors were much like unequal balls with a string between them flung into space, each orbiting the other and controlling useful commodities they represented as a common denominator. Thus $1.29 silver meant $1.25 wheat, $1.00 corn and soybeans in the $1.45 range. Drop silver's price on the London exchange a penny an ounce, and wheat in Kansas would fall a penny a bushel also. This ability to yo-yo commodity prices was used to ruin farmers by causing them to substitute debt for earnings. (p25. A Life in the Day of An Editor'')
In his afore-mentioned Merchants of Grain, author Dan Morgan tells us that around the turn of the 20th century, Lenin observed that - for the "international manipulators" at least - grain was the currency of currencies - as good as gold in most cases. Today the same might be said of oil. Tomorrow it is likely to be water, a resource now dangerously depleted through ill-advised land use policies that support industrial-style agriculture, fracking and more.
Again referring to Charles Walters, this time from the 2nd, revised and updated edition of his book Unforgiven we are treated to comments by Carl H. Wilken, one of the founders of the National Organization for Raw Materials economics association. The following are excerpts from Chapter 8:
[A 1939 Congressional monetary hearing brought out the manipulation of monetary metals, gold and silver. To wit] from 1873 to 1896, the price of silver broke from $1.32 an ounce to 65 cents an ounce. Along with it the price of wheat dropped a cent a bushel for every cent that silver went down. Why? Well, there's and old saying that wheat is the staff of life. And silver was the poor nation's money. South American nations and India and China didn't have gold. The U.S. was fortunate. We uncovered gold deposits in California and in Colorado and then in the Black Hills, in South Dakota. So we've always had some gold production. . .[The U.S. in effect had its own “money” store insofar as monetary metals were concerned. These metals were used to manipulate all raw materials.]
In 1910-1914, the price of silver was about 60 cents an ounce. And then WWI broke out. The price of silver moved up to $1.38 in 1919, but gold stayed at $20.67. The increase in the price of silver gave more buying power to poor nations – and commodity prices [including grain] moved up in the United States. Wages moved up to 50 cents an hour.
Then in 1920 the international financiers decided to pull the strings to bring the commodity prices back in line with the price of $20.67 gold, or the 1910-1914 prices. Remember, during WWI the Eastern banks loaned money to the rural banks so that the people could buy bonds to finance the war. When they called in those loans, bonds dropped as low as something like 80 cents on the dollar. We lost 25% of our national income in one year -1919-1920. . .
Going back to 1800, we had bi-metalism. You had $20.67 gold and $1.29 silver. In our country it was on a ratio of 16 to 1. In 1873, we had a big discovery of silver. They just made a commodity out of it. That cut your basic metal for money in half, because silver and gold were equal on that differential in price. When you did that you wrecked the economies of South America, Mexico, and India and China, because they had no gold. Their money was based on silver. At that time it didn't hurt us so much because we had developed gold production in the U.S. So we had the gold production to take care of our international balances.
After WWI the price of silver moved back up to $1.38 from about 60 cents in the 1910-1914 period. That of course increased world commodity prices, because all the foreign nations on silver money had more money [i.e., their silver could buy more]. And we moved up from $31 billion in income in 1910 to $79 billion in 1919. Then the international financiers wanted to get this commodity price level back to balance with $20.67 gold. (gold hadn't increased in price yet). To do that they broke the price of silver in the world market from $1.38 to 65 cents an ounce in about six months. . .
“They” are the international money in London and New York. In other words your big banking houses, they wanted to get the commodity prices down to balance with gold. . . .All they had to do was sell paper silver (not actual silver). Just sell it down, down, down. As a result of that India, and China with silver as a monetary metal were bankrupt. Then, as a result of that we had the Depression because it broke our farm prices – we lost 54% of our national income from 1929 to 1933. [when our farm prices started going down, there was a concomitant expansion of credit. Pp112-113
[There was a big meeting in London in 1925 on silver.] That was a discussion about bringing silver back into the picture and doubling the monetary metal. The gold supply – at the $20.67 price – wasn't enough to take care of the money needs of the United States since income had moved from $33 billion in 1910-1914 to $82 billion in 1925-1929. pp114
When I served with Home Capehart's committee we found that 40% of the profits of the four biggest banks came from international transactions rather than domestic transactions. They made their profits on international trade and differences in exchange. Pp115
1936 Report to Congress -------stated that from 1836 to 1936, 85% of the minerals in US farm soils had disappeared.
1939-----------------Cavity rates had soared in modernized cultures to 298 cavities per 1000 teeth examined by Weston Price in his studies. Price's findings also revealed levels of health between broad cultural groups. Among the of the healthy groups was the traditional Eskimo, whose only carbohydrate came from the seaweed left in the stomachs of fish. Eskimos who followed a traditional diet had a cavity rate of .9 cavity per 1000 teeth examined compared to those Eskimos following a “modern” diet. The "modern-diet" Eskimos had 130 cavities per 1000 teeth examined by Price. Also included in this group were coastal fishermen who consumed seaweed and fish almost exclusively. (Iceland provides another example of dental decay-resistant groups that were virtually carb-free, as described in The Milk of Human Kindness Is Not Pasteurized by Dr. William Campbell Douglas Senior: the Director of the National Museum of Iceland says that it is definitely established that from 1200 to 1800 there were no dental cavities in Icelandic people, whose diet consisted of milk and milk products, mutton, beef and fish – NO carbohydrate except a little moss soup in summer.) In descending order, the next healthiest groups studied by Weston Price were hunters and herdsmen, and the least healthy of the healthiest groups, as defined by tooth decay, were those consuming traditional diets consisting of properly prepared grain along with animal fat and protein. Thus the traditional cultures in the Swiss Alps had 46 cavities per 1000 teeth examined as compared to the adjacent more modernized cultures who had 298 cavities per 1000 teeth examined. The least healthy groups identified by Price were those groups who consumed “the foods of commerce” and those whose diets were made up entirely of plant matter (vegans). Another key point emerges from paleopathologists, which mirrors the findings of Weston Price, this as related by Richard Manning: "Many societies turned to agriculture in the early days primarily to supplement or stabilize a basic existence of hunting and gathering. Among these people, paleopathologists found few of the difficulties associated with people who are exclusively agricultural."
1970------------------------Norman Borlaug, lauded as the father of the Green Revolution (defined as agriculture meeting science), wins the Noble Prize for his development of dwarf wheat which is credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation. So, as Richard Manning writes in his book Against the Grain: Progressives like Henry Wallace and Norman Borlaug went to work to help poor people. Wallace's hybrid corn did indeed do that for a time, making life better for a generation of farm folks. But in the end, it only enlarged the pile of surplus grain, which the system evolved to digest for its own purposes.This "digestion evolution" included High fructose corn syrup,"scientifically formulated" animal feed, seed oils and more. Today, 38% of U.S. corn and 80% of U.S. soybeans are sown with either intensively hybridized or genetically engineered seeds. Meanwhile, a number of other countries with access to GMO technology have been resistant to - or have even placed outright bans - on genetically engineered seeds (though not "intensively hybridized " bread wheat).
1985 -----------------------Dwarf wheat, which increases yield 10-fold provided enough nitrate fertilizer is used, is in widespread use in the US. The U.S. government becomes hooked on using corn and wheat to balance trade, and structures subsidies to assist with this endeavor. Livestock form a key part of the modern economic equation: grain fed cows for example produce about 20 to 30 thousand pounds of dairy in a year. A grass-fed cow produces about three to five thousand pounds. There’s a huge difference in yield. [One problem is that] the dairy that’s coming from a grain-fed cow is very high in omega-6 [due to feed grains and] very low in omega-3. That’s going to be inflammatory. [Meanwhile] grass-fed dairy has a molecule called CLA, conjugulated linoleic acid, which many researchers are finding is a potent anticarcinogen. There’s also other great nutrients in there. For example, the major fat that’s in grass-fed dairy is called butyric acid. Butyric acid is a preferred fuel source for healthy gut microbes in your system and it helps your intestinal cells to develop and actually to strengthen so that way we don’t develop problems like leaky gut and ulcerations in our gut and things like that, which is extremely important for helping our immune system. Seventy percent of our immune system’s in our gut. Little surprise that researchers and journalists like Sayer Ji, Richard Manning, Dan Morgan, Braly and Hogan and others say that there are very strong economic AND cultural reasons why the inherent problems associated with wheat and grain consumption worldwide are willfully ignored.
Today---------------------The world relies on 3 grains - corn, wheat and rice - for more than 2/3s of its nutrition. People in poor countries take in most of their calories by consuming grain directly but most grain consumption in the United States is indirect through consumption of food products derived from livestock fattened on grain. Worldwide, the incidence of celiac sprue has increased four fold over the last 3 decades (i.e. between 1985 and 2015) during which time dwarf wheat has been in widespread use. Researchers say this is just the tip of the iceberg, and believe that ALL of us may have significant trouble dealing with the various anti-nutrients found in foods derived from seed grasses. (“Secondary” consumption of gluten via grain fed animal products is now considered to be an overlooked source of gluten, aspartic and glutamic acid overload.) As of 2009, production and sales of organic food in the U.s. comprised 3.9% of all food sold.
Over the long sweep of agricultural history - and despite any temporary gains individual farmers may have realized as a result of "improved efficiency" and demand - neither farmers as a group nor the land has benefitted. Neither has human health, dependent as it is on high quality, nutrient dense, unprocessed foods grown on clean, properly cultivated, carbon-rich soils. The facts clearly show that in an ideal world cereal grass seeds (which are, among other things, a commodity easy to control) would, of necessity, need to play a far more limited role in the diets of both humans and domesticated animals.
In Dangerous Grains, Braly and Hogan write: "Popular beliefs and politically motivated promotion, not science, continue to dictate dietary recommendations, leading to debilitating and deadly diseases that are wholly or partly preventable. . . . There is a persuasive convergence of evidence against grains from several fields, including medicine, genetics, and archeology. . . . . This is the extremely complex problem we face. Many people eat grains daily because they are cheap and abundant, yet science is reporting that these very same grains are bringing us to the brink of an enormous health crisis."
DISEASE ASSOCIATED WITH GRAIN CONSUMPTION
As our timeline suggests there have been health issues associated with grain and seed grass consumption from the beginning. One researcher by the name of Mark Cohen who, in his own summary of evidence gathered from around the world provides “a list of diseases and conditions that were evident in skeletal and fecal remains of early farmers but absent among hunter-gathers. The list includes malnutrition, osteomyelitis and periostitis (bone infections), intestinal parasites, yaws, syphilis, leprosy, tuberculosis, anemia (from poor diet as well as from hookworms), rickets in children, osteomalacia in adults, retarded childhood growth, and short stature among adults.” (Manning, in Against the Grain))
As a side note, domesticated animals began to show similar problems almost as soon as they began to hang around the by-then long time wheat and barley farmers of the fertile crescent. Manning writes: “these animals' bodies, their skeletal remains, show this transition to grain consumption much as human bones do: they are smaller, more diseased, more battered and beaten. . .”
Today, and speaking here specifically of wheat, Dr. William Davis provides strong evidence in his best selling book Wheat Belly linking the consumption of wheat with celiac disease, other digestive diseases, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, aging-related conditions, and skin and hair problems. . . . And he says, a big part of today's problem has to do with intense hybridization which can actually be worse than genetic modification . . . Davis maintains that the reason that modern wheat is so bad is because it is higher in carbohydrate and lower in protein that any of the earlier wheat varieties. (Einkorn wheat is higher in many micro-nutrients and higher in protein while being lower in gluten than "bread" wheat.)
More recently, Dr. William Davis has joined a growing chorus, saying on his blog that he and his team now fully reject the idea that grains should form the cornerstone of the human diet. In fact, he writes, we reject grains outright, as they are all seeds of grasses incompatible with human digestion. While I began this conversation by picking on the worst of the bunch – modern semi-dwarf wheat – understand that all grasses are related. Grasses are, more than most organisms, promiscuous and share genetics with each other quite readily. That’s how 28-chromosome emmer wheat, for instance, mated with another 14-chromosome wild grass, goat grass, and yielded the ancestor of all modern wheat. . . It means that, when you consume wheat or the seed of any other grass, such as corn, millet, or rice, you are also consuming components expressed by many other grasses.
In their book Dangerous Grains Drs. Braly and Hoggan along with others have found that grains in the diet cause multiple nutritional deficiencies, including iron, vitamin A, vitamin B-12, zinc, and magnesium. In his powerpoint, Dr. Kenneth Logan says that Whole Wheat is deficient in Vitamins A, C, B12 and betacarotene, while processed wheat causes deficiencies in Vitamins B1,2, and 3 as well as iron, all of which are now added to processed wheat products. However, processed wheat is still deficient in Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, and other important micronutrients. Corn causes depletion of Niacin (B3) and reduced tryptophan production. Rice causes beriberi due to thiamine deficiency, causing 1000's of deaths in Japan in the 1920s. Millet causes goiter formation and impairs iodine uptake. (As an aside when our bodies are low in micronutrients like these, they try to rob Peter to pay Paul so to speak in order to keep the whole machine going. For example, a deficiency in niacin (B3) impairs absorption of Vitamin C which impairs absorption of iron which then leads to an increased uptake of lead, and so on.) Like Dr. Logan, Braly and Hoggan point out that corn, rice, processed wheat, whole wheat and millet all are associated with modern diseases such as pellagra, beriberi, goiter formation and so forth that come about as a result of nutrient deficiencies. They, together with Dr. Logan and many others also say that all grains contribute to the elevation of blood sugar, insulin levels and risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Similarly, the intestinal inflammation caused by gluten sensitivity can lead to an inability to absorb proteins, carbs and fats. An inability to absorb fats, as one example, leads to deficiencies in fat soluble vitamins like A, E, K and those essential fatty acids that are critical to hormone production.
Part of the problem with grains is that they cause an “inflammatory response” in the body, starting with the small intestine and migrating throughout the body. For many people this response is subclinical, meaning most people and their health care providers will not detect it for years if ever. Many eventually are diagnosed with another disease instead. It is only after the fact a "lucky" few will learn that the root cause of their problem has to do with grain consumption.
Compare all this to the research of Weston A. Price, who by 1939 had proved conclusively that dental decay is primarily caused by nutritional deficiencies and further that those kinds of foods which promote dental decay also promote disease, through disruption of the "regular fermentation process" of a person's biological terrain.
For further reading:
Dangerous Grains powerpoint presentation by Kevin Logan, M.D.
Article titled Wheat: 200 clinically confirmed reasons not to eat wheat, with reference links.
Wheaty Indiscretions: What Happens to Wheat from Seed to Storage (and its links) originally posted at the Weston Price website.
Also check out this 2 hour course segment by clinical herbalist, author and teacher Thomas Easley on the small intestine. Your time will be well spent. Thomas Easley and colleagues are in the process of starting a new natural health school called Wellspring Mountain Education and Retreat Center which is where this discussion is posted. They are currently asking for donations to help them make needed repairs to buildings and grounds.
And these books:
Dangerous Grains by James Braly, M.D., and Ron Hoggan M.A
Life Without Bread by Christian B. Allan, PhD and Wolfgang Lutz, M.D.
Also check Against the Grain by Richard Manning as well as newer titles such as Wheat Belly, and Grain Brain.