Pasture for People, Too - Article in Furrow Magazine
Furrow Magazine's audience is Farmers. Pines Wheat Grass impressed the author of the article below. My Kessler thought it was great that people could also pasture on grass. Even though humans don't have a digestive tract to obtain energy from cellulose like cattle, we humans still need fiber. Fiber is not digested by most mammals like humans. Instead, it provides a media for the probiotic bacteria. Research shows that without fiber in our diet, probiotic bacteria cannot thrive. They cannot do their job of using the non-cellulose part of food in our diets.
AS SEEN IN The Furrow Magazine / Written by Karl Kessler
This Kansas firm is selling bottled wheatgrass that’s more nutritious than carrots and spinach. Growing numbers of health-food people have learned something cattle faarmers have known for years. Wheatgrass contains high levels of nutrition. Harvested just before the plants start to joint, tender young wheat leaves beat carrots and spinach in nutritional level. Wheatgrass has proved as a veggie in human diets, according to Ron Seibold. Seibold is co-founder of PINES International. The firm, based in Lawrence, Kansas, has been selling wheat grass for humans since 1976.
Farmers Understand the Benefits of Dark Green Veggies
"Some of our best customers are farmers," he says. "They’ve seen how well beef cattle do on wheat pasture, and they know what wheatgrass can do for milk production and the health of dairy animals." Seibold says just one spoonful of PINES Wheat Grass powder, dissolved in water or juice, provides the same amount of nutrition as a serving of deep-green, leafy vegetables. Seven wheat grass tablets will do the same. Pound for pound, he notes, the dried wheatgrass the company sells is many times richer in chlorophyll and iron than spinach. Its protein level averages 25 percent. Their wheatgrass contains virtually every known vitamin. It also contains 20 amino acids, including the eight essential for human health. According to Seibold, PINES Wheat Grass has six times the vitamin A of carrots, eight times the vitamin C of citrus, five times the calcium of whole milk, and 18 times the iron of spinach.
The Company Grows Other Greens for "Human Pasture"
In addition to wheatgrass, PINES offers barley grass in tablet and powdered form. Seibold says the two grasses contain the same basic nutrition.
Last year, PINES introduced a new product called Mighty Greens. Billed as a "green superfood blend," it comes in powdered form for mixing with water or juice. The main ingredients include wheatgrass and alfalfa sweetened with stevia. PINES also markets dried alfalfa, oat grass, rye grass and beet juice powder. Pines distributes all the products throughout the U.S. The majority of the nation’s 10,000 health food store
carry Pines. Although Seibold says demand for PINES products is strong, it doesn’t take many acres to supply the raw materials to produce them. "With the farming system we’ve developed, we’re getting all the wheat grass we need from about 500 acres," he notes. "The company owns most of that land. One farmer, who’s been with us from the beginning, grows the rest of the wheat we use."
Growing Wheatgrass Pasture for Humans
The farming system Seibold refers to begins with seedbed preparation. "We don’t want any furrows or high places," he explains. "Our people disk the ground very thoroughly and sometimes harrow it to try to get a smooth seedbed. "Pines doesn't use any chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides," he adds. "We rotate most of our wheat with red clover and soybeans. We rotate between wheat and soybeans. Sometimes, we rotate with two years of red clover or longer periods with alfalfa. We limit weed control by cultivating the soybeans." Although Seibold prefers not to discuss specific varieties, he says the company grows wheat varieties that produce food foliage.
The company harvests the wheatgrass about 200 days after seeding, just before it begins to joint. "That’s when the plants reach their nutritional peak," Seibold says. "After that, they begin to grow rapidly and the nutritional value falls off dramatically." When ready, Pines harvests the grass is using special custom-built, self-propelled machines that resemble forage harvesters. Seibold emphasizes that none of the grass ever touches the ground. The grass also never touches human hands while harvested and processed. "We direct cut the grass just after the joint comes out of the boot," he says. "The plants are about 7 to 10 inches tall at that stage and we only clip off the top 3 inches or so."
Wheatgrass Pasture: Careful Handling
The clipped leaves go directly into the harvester’s sterilized hopper. The grass is whisked from the field by truck to a nearby dehydrator. The custom-designed dehydrator dries the leaves in a patented low-temperature process that keeps the natural enzymes in the material alive, Seibold says. From the dehydrator, the grass goes directly into huge, nitrogen-filled plastic pharmaceutical bags. Each bag holds a ton or more of dry leaves. The company stores the grass at about 10 degrees F until the processing plant in Lawrence is ready for it. Most of the grass goes into tablets or powder. The company packages both amber glass bottles flushed with nitrogen to prevent deterioration from exposure to air and light. Meanwhile, back in the fields, the wheat after wheatgrass harvest goes on to mature. When ripe, the company harvests the grain.
Pines does not sell all of the grass. Since 1991, PINES has donated shipments of wheat grass products equaling about 10 percent of annual sales to needy and undernourished people
. Seibold says free products have gone to projects that assist Native Americans and homeless individuals in the U.S., and to organizations that distribute food in Africa, Central America, Asia, and Europe. The total retail value of the donations now exceeds $1.5 million and represent millions of servings of the greens that are lacking in many diets.
Wheatgrass Pasture: Special projects
PINES' and its foundation converted this field back to native prairie. The company seeks to preserve farmland and wildlife preservation. Seibold grew up on a wheat farm in Kansas. He received a master's degree in sociology. He has long sought to preserving productive farmland and wildlife habitat. Ron and Steve Malone, Pines International’s other co-founder and current chief executive, establish major goals when they started the company. They wanted to generate money to buy chemically-farmed land and convert it to organic farming. Profits from growing chemical-free cereal grasses, grains, and vegetable crops would then buy additional land. Funds would also develop wildlife habitat, and set up environmental-education projects
Leaders in Converting Land to Organic
Since 1991, PINES has acquired nearly 1,300 acres. About 70 percent grows organic hay or other organic crops. The rest is forest. Most of that became part of a Wilderness Community Education Foundation that Malone and Seibold have established. PINES has also constructed three energy-efficient demonstration homes near Lawrence. Two are entirely underground. Seibold says the company’s sales volume has expanded 10 to 20 percent a year from the outset. He expects to see continued steady growth. "People are becoming more aware of the importance of dark-green, leafy vegetables. The traditional American diet doesn’t include enough of them," he notes. "Our products offer a convenient way to correct that deficiency without having to change your whole diet."
Find Pines Products
The USDA says that 9 out of 10 people do not eat enough veggies. Pines offer servings that are easy to consume and that cost considerably less per serving than other greens. You can find Pines' green superfoods at a store near you with our locator
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