Ancient Grain for Future Farming

A few years ago, as we approached 30 years of KAMUT® grain, I had the great pleasure to see one of Bernward Geier’s films—The Farmer and His Prince was about the organic farm of Prince Charles. It was beautiful and inspirational and it made me want to share our story with the same visually compelling brilliance.

The story of KAMUT® is about more than an organically-grown grain—it’s about being good stewards of our beautiful planet, and it’s about the people with whom we share it. I am so honored to share our story with you, so without further ado…

Ancient Grain for Future Farming

The impressive success story of the ancient khorasan wheat variety grown exclusively organic and non-GMO on farms in North America. From 36 kernels and humble beginnings, the grain is now marketed around the world under the KAMUT® brand name.

Cracks in the Wall: The Fall of Glyphosate

great wall of china

When I was young, folks claimed (quite often, actually) that the Great Wall of China was the only man-made structure on earth visible from the moon. Astronauts have since declared this particular statement to be false. But it’s a claim that has a lot of parallels to the current glyphosate debate. Chemical companies are like the symbolic equivalent of the Great Wall—certainly Monsanto and their popular cure-all product, Roundup (which is glyphosate in a bottle) qualifies. Roundup was once touted as the savior of chemical agricultural production here in the U.S. and around the world. Monsanto claimed it was safe, both for humans and the environment, with the assurance that glyphosate breaks down in the sunlight and upon contact with the soil—harmless components with no health risks. But none of these supposedly tested and verified claims are turning out to be true—serious and detrimental cracks in the “Great Wall” of chemical agriculture.

One such crack in the Great Glyphosate Wall came about recently in California following the court ruling that glyphosate caused school groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, to have cancer—a verdict that cost the supposedly safe chemical giant more than a quarter of a billion dollars! Following the trial, an expert witness observed that the unanimity of the jury and the size of the punitive award made this an historic turning point for chemical companies that think they can control their version of science. It’s also going to be very hard to challenge on appeal because the judge sided with Monsanto on virtually all objections, driving the plaintiff attorneys near crazy. And ninety percent of the hard evidence regarding Monsanto’s dirty tricks wasn’t even presented to the jury, yet they still found the company’s behavior reckless. So much for Monsanto’s claim that glyphosate has no health consequences.

That same week another crack in the Great Glyphosate Wall appeared when a publication by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) commented on the concerning amount of glyphosate in breakfast cereals. Many of these are common cereals we’re feeding our children and grandchildren, and they’re showing heavy glyphosate contamination! Even some of the organic cereals had traces of glyphosate, which is something we have seen in some of our organic grains, despite having never been sprayed.

Since 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen” and the resulting PR battle with chemical companies, like Monsanto, has raged ever since. Dewayne Johnson’s victory exposed Monsanto’s half-truths and lies and provided a showcase of further scientific evidence to support the World Health Organization’s evaluation.

While Monsanto and other chemical companies continue to insist their products are safe, or that they break down in the sun and soil, our studies have even found glyphosate in our rain water! Reports of glyphosate contaminating waterways and soil have been around for a while, but glyphosate in the rain is relatively new. And even more alarming are the growing reports of contamination in our food supply.

Recently, my son, Adam, attended a food safety course in Great Falls, Montana where one of the grain company representatives said their local elevators would no longer accept grain sprayed with glyphosate. This is likely due to a growing number of export customers who will only accept grain that is not contaminated with glyphosate—and wisely so!

Years ago, when I visited the Great Wall of China, I found a section of the wall that hadn’t been restored. Hidden over a rise, out of sight and yet just a few feet from the restored area, were the ruins of the original wall. It was worn and weathered, crumbling and full of cracks—nothing like the solid stone wall on the other side of the rise. The Great Glyphosate Wall is like the Great Wall of China: supposedly solid, supposedly safe. But if you step over that rise, you see the real wall, the real cost to farms, farmers and the environment. You see the cracks in a contaminated food supply and the deterioration of human health. I believe the days of glyphosate are numbered, that we are at the beginning of the end of the experiment with chemical agriculture. And it is my hope that more USDA research can be channeled to sustainable, non-chemical weed and pest control systems because the Great Glyphosate Wall will continue to crumble as more people see it for what it is.

The Organic Revolution: The Future of Food for the World

When I was young, the world was a buzz with the prospects of the “Green Revolution”—a movement intended to feed the world through the industrialization of agriculture with the promise of higher yields using large inputs of chemical fertilizer and pesticides. The Green Revolution officially began after World War II, was first characterized in 1968, and Normal Borlaug is credited as the father of this movement. The original focus was India, where famine and food shortages were almost a way of life.

If you focus solely on the total increase in production, you would say the Green Revolution was a rousing success. But if you look closer, there are more questions than answers. More hidden costs of cheap and plentiful food that promoters of this system don’t like to discuss. The long-term problems associated with this high-input, unsustainable, artificial system are starting to cast a deepening shadow over the short-term advantages.

Questions regarding the unintended costs of the Green Revolution, and the adoption of alternative, more sustainable agricultural systems, began as very small, isolated voices soon after the movement was heralded as the future of mankind. In recent years, these small voices have grown in number and volume, becoming a large and significant chorus from all around the world—a new revolution. And interestingly enough, talk of this new “Organic Revolution” is strongest in India—the very country targeted as the cradle of the Green Revolution from my youth.

Very recently, mid-summer this year, the German TV broadcaster, ZDF, aired a story they had co-produced about the paradigm shift of agriculture in India. The program included a story about the first 100% organic state in India—all 65,000 farmers were converted to organic! The nearby country Bhutan is still working on a similar goal, which will make it the first country in the world to be 100% organic! Another federal state in India, Uttarakhand, has also made the commitment to convert to 100% organic. There are 1.6 million farmers in Uttarakhand! Earlier this summer, the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh announced its intent to convert all farmers to 100% pesticide free, which is very close to organic. In total, just in India, we’re talking about 6 million organic farmers! This is not just a paradigm shift but an agricultural revolution—or perhaps a better term might be “evolution,” as it must continue to evolve if it is to be sustainable.

But what is driving this Organic Revolution? I believe it has the same drivers all over the world—the high cost of producing, processing and eating cheap food. (More on the high cost of cheap food, feeding the world using regenerative organic agriculture and the reduction of food waste to come.) The goal of the Green Revolution was to feed the people of the world; the goal of the Organic Revolution is to nourish the people of the world and heal the earth where we live.

Join me and the millions of voices—farmers, gardeners, consumers and businesses—who believe in nutritious, sustainable food, for today and for the future. Support the Organic Revolution and take control of your health. #organicrevolution