Modern Wheat Hybridization
“Are these ancient grains gluten free?” is a question we get asked a lot at our bakeries. Quick answer – no they’re not.
However, the gluten found in ancient grains like Emmer, Spelt, Khorasan and Rye, which have been around thousands of years, is not the same as that of modern wheat. Why? The answer is hybridization.
Humans have been interbreeding plants for centuries. It’s done to increase the positive attributes and breed out the negative ones. In Canada, much hybridization of wheat has occurred since the 1940s, mainly to produce wheat with a shorter growing time, and to dwarf the plants in order to achieve higher yield per acre.
When a plant is hybridized, up to five per cent of the protein (gluten) found in the offspring do not exist in either parent plant. (Ref article: Identification of differently expressed proteins between hybrid and parents in wheat)
Now imagine the wheat is hybridized over and over again, hundreds of times. The new wheat gluten is nothing like what it once was.
The 1% of Canadians who suffer from Celiac disease cannot eat any form of gluten, whether modern wheat or ancient grains. However, for those who do not have Celiac Disease but have found digestive issues when eating modern wheat, bread made with ancient grain or heritage wheat may offer a solution.*
*We are not doctors. We recommend consulting a physician and discussing different options before experimenting.