I hate wheatgrass....and now I know why!
A few weeks ago Sarma and I were taking about this weird syndrome that a lot of raw foodist go through after having been raw for at least a year or so. It is called the "I can't stand wheatgrass and if you feed it to me I'll vomit syndrome." I use to LOVE wheatgrass...you know, like a fat kid loves cake and all. But then all of a sudden something happened. I didn't know what that something was, but it happened after about one year of being raw. Thanks to an email forwarded to me by long time raw foodist and visual artist Erez Sitzer, I may have an answer!
It turns out that indoor grown wheatgrass is filled with mold! Nasty! And after years of cleaning up your diet, according to Carol Macintosh (expert-outdoor-wheatgrass-lady), you become more and more sensitive to the mold till it starts to make you down right nauseous. I knew I wasn't feeling sick for nothing.
Anway...check this conversation out between reporter Steve Diaz and Carol Macintosh of evergreenjuices.com. It will help you get a better understanding of why you may be better off staying away from growing more trays and downing more of thoes double shots!
Steve Diaz: I'm speaking to Carol Macintosh. She is the owner of Evergreen Wheatgrass Juice. Carol, you were talking about the difference between indoor wheatgrass and outdoor wheatgrass?
Macintosh: Right. Wheatgrass, for the most part, has been grown on trays for 60 or 70 years. That's the only way people know how to grow it. That's the only way that's available. My father started growing it 18 or 19 years ago, and he did grow it indoors for seven years. The difficulty with wheat, whether you grow it indoors or outdoors, is there's a certain percentage of seeds that do not germinate and that's part of farming. A mold grows on the seeds that don't germinate. When you grow it on the trays, usually the seeds are so close together that the leaves of the good stuff will actually absorb the mold up into the plant itself. So even though you cut above what we call the "mold line" and wash it off, it's in the plant itself and you can't get rid of it.
A lot of people are very sensitive to mold and it's very common that people get headaches with wheatgrass. Sometimes they get nauseous and what we were taught and told our customers was, "Oh, you're detoxifying. That's why you feel like you want to throw up and why you do throw up." We believed that until one of our customers had an anaphylactic reaction and almost died because she reacted to it so severely. He called in the middle of this anaphylactic reaction, trying to figure out what to do with this lady, and they told him it was a good thing: It was a healing crisis; it was a strong detoxification and (they told him) to give her more wheatgrass.
Macintosh: In the meantime, she has hives all over her body, she's breathing in gasps because she can't breathe and my dad says, "You guys are idiots! She came in here absolutely fine, now she can hardly breathe and you want me to give her more wheatgrass? This is a reaction; this is not detoxification." They said, "No, no, no." They would not admit that there's ever a reaction. It turned out she was highly allergic, and had he given her more, most likely he would have killed her. That's when he shut down the wheatgrass juice. As far as he was concerned, he was out of the business.
He was visiting a friend, a farmer who was growing wheat, and he saw this wheat coming out of the field and thought, "Well, it is wheat. Why can't I juice this?" So, he took out a knife, cut some down, brought it home and started juicing it. Normally with indoor-grown wheatgrass juice, most people can't handle more than an ounce or two before they start getting nauseous. He was juicing it and drinking it and juicing it and drinking it, and before he realized he drank a whole glass. Then, he thought, "Oh, now I'm really going to be sick!" -- and he wasn't.
So, that kind of started him experimenting with different types of wheat outside. By growing it outside, the same thing happened. He saw a certain percentage of seed that didn't germinate because that's part of farming, but there are two things that kill mold: One is sun and the other is cold. When we plant our wheat outside, it's actually planted as a farm, in rows -- if you see a row of corn, a row of grass. There's a good inch or so between the seeds and then you can actually walk between the rows of this grass, so the sun can get to any seeds that don't germinate, and if by chance the sun misses anything, the cold will also get it in the winter time. Our grass right now in Canada is still actually under snow.
The other thing is that wheatgrass juice, with wheat in particular, will actually go from the sprout stage to a vegetable stage to a grain. When you grow wheatgrass indoors on a tray, it physically cannot go past the sprout stage. So it will grow up so high, maybe seven or eight inches, and then it falls over. Because it's at the sprout stage, it has a very high level of simple sugars. It's very, very syrupy sweet. If you've ever had it, it's just like dessert, which is also why for people who have Candida are drinking indoor wheatgrass juice: It will set it right off because you're drinking sugar.
When we grow it outside and it's short, it tastes just like the indoor. When it changes to a vegetable, those simple sugars mature to the more complex carbohydrates, so it does taste like grass, very, very mildly, like a green tea, like a watermelon and a lime. People can't believe this is real wheatgrass because you don't get that overpowering "eurgh" taste, and that's the mold that people are actually tasting when they get that bitter aftertaste.
Macintosh: Actually, our plant is grown right on our farm, so it's always coming in. Once it comes in as a plant, it goes through a series of washes and rinses. We juice it, we filter it down to five microns and we chill it in 90 seconds down to 35 degrees Fahrenheit using a machine called a Glycol chiller, so it drops it just above freezing. Then, it goes to our packaging machine, where it's put into individual cubes, and from there it goes to the last freezer. Our whole purpose is to preserve the raw chlorophyll. That's why we keep this in a raw state; we don't make a powder out of it. There are a lot of good powders out there; we're not one of those.
Macintosh: Preserving the raw chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is phenomenal. People don't realize what it does. It has the same molecular structure as your hemoglobin. The only difference is the nucleus. The body's actually able to take it and turn it into hemoglobin. For example, my sister in law hemorrhaged after she had her second-to-last baby and her blood went down to 38 or 39, in that area. She couldn't even sit up without passing out. They told her it would take six to eight weeks to get her blood back up to normal. We gave her a box a day for three days. In three days, her blood was back up to normal.
Macintosh: That's what the chlorophyll did. It's phenomenal for the blood; it's naturally high in oxygen. A lot of cancer patients use this because of the oxygen. Anything to do with the blood, energy, it's phenomenal for the oxygen -- people use it for a variety of reasons. It takes about a pound of grass to make an ounce of this, so it's a whole lot of green food in a small amount. Most people don't eat enough greens, or enough raw foods.
Steve: So, do you have a website if people want to read a little bit more?
Macintosh: Yes, www.evergreenjuices.com
Steve: Okay, if consumers are looking on the web and want to buy your product or try your product, can you tell me where they can find it?
Macintosh: They have to go to the local health food store. We don't sell direct because the product is frozen and that's one thing that we're very careful with, that it's always kept frozen. It's shipped in trucks, so on the West Coast, actually less on the East Coast, our main distributor is called United Natural Foods.
So, if they were to go their local health food store and ask for it, if they didn't have it, they could request it. If the store purchases from United Natural Foods, then they can order it from them.
Steve: I see. Super. Thanks for talking with us.
Macintosh: Thank you.