Letter to The National Agricultural Hall of Fame
February 11, 2012
The National Agricultural Hall of Fame
630 Hall of Fame Drive
Bonner Springs, Kansas 66012
I recently learned that the famous agricultural chemist, Charles F. Schnabel, Sr., has not yet been inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame. I am writing to nominate him as a major contributor to agriculture throughout the world.
I am a co-founder of Pines International, Inc., a company that specializes in growing, harvesting, packaging and marketing wheatgrass and other cereal grasses. As a result, during the past 36 years, I have frequently been interviewed by various media about our products. Each time, I end up discussing the work of Charles F. Schnabel. It is difficult to talk about the history of cereal grass and alfalfa without mentioning his name.
I also authored the book, Cereal Grass: What’s in it for you!, which is now in its fifth printing. It contains a dedication to Charles F. Schnabel, Sr. There is no question that he opened the door to scientific research on cereal grass. After Schnabel’s initial work in the mid1920s that showed chickens nearly tripled their winter egg production when a small amount of cereal grass was added to their diet, he went on to find benefits with nearly every kind of livestock. His research documented larger litters, richer milk, more milk, less infant mortality, better fur and improved general health when a small amount of dehydrated cereal grass was added to the animal’s food ration.
He also tested cereal grass at every stage of growth and determined the highest level of nutrition was achieved just prior to and at the jointing stage. He developed a dehydration method that captured that high nutritional level. His research led directly to dozens of dehydration facilities in every state where cereal grains and alfalfa are grown. These facilities have produced millions of tons of cereal grass and alfalfa for both human and animal consumption. Many are still in operation.
Over the last 75 years, facilities based on Charles F. Schnabel’s research have produced billions of dollars in animal feeds as well as billions in human food supplements. Our own company recently invested more than $4 million for two new dehydrators based on Schnabel’s design. These facilities are being used exclusively for drying cereal grass and alfalfa for human consumption. Other companies also have dehydration facilities used for cereal grass as a food or as a nutrient-dense ingredient in foods.
An estimated 40,000 acres of cereal grass are harvested each year worldwide for human consumption. Cereal grass for the natural food industry is being grown and dried in Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Florida, New York and California. That is just for the United States. Cereal grass as a human food is also being grown and dried in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Ecuador, Germany, India and Russia Most of these drying facilities are based on Schnabel’s original research into the best method to protect and preserve vitamins and green food nutrients.
Millions of people worldwide also grow wheatgrass in their homes or in greenhouses. Although this method of growing cereal grass is nothing like what Schnabel researched, the books and literature in support of this highly unnatural way to grow cereal grass often refer to Charles F. Schnabel as “the father of wheatgrass.” When you consider this popular trend, it can be said that cereal grass is now being grown for human consumption in kitchens of every country on earth. When I first started what became my life’s work in 1975, I was very interested in the many research studies by Charles F. Schnabel on the use of dehydrated cereal grass as an animal food, but it was his work with cereal grass as a human food and dozens of research papers published in medical journals that most inspired me 37 years ago. In nearly every case, the medical studies were conducted with dehydrated cereal grass provided by Schnabel.
In order to make this miraculous food available to more people, Schnabel started Cerophyl laboratories in the 1930s. Cerophyl was a company that produced what can rightfully be called “the world’s first multivitamin.” At about the same time Schnabel was documenting the nutritional and health benefits of dehydrated cereal grass for both animals and humans, vitamins were being discovered, Schnabel applied these new vitamin analysis protocols to dehydrated cereal grass harvested at the jointing stage. In nearly every case, he found that cereal grass
contained a higher level of vitamins than other foods. With all the discoveries, people were clamoring for a way to increase the vitamins in their diets. Schnabel’s Cerophyl was the answer. With the recommended 20 tablets per day, people could receive their minimum daily requirements of most of the known vitamins.
Cerophyl’s market took off immediately. Nearly every pharmacy in the United States carried the product. Due to the onslaught of articles in medical journals and the FDA’s approval as a food, doctors routinely recommended Cerophyl to their patients. It also had a growing international market. Several dehydrating facilities in Kansas were working at maximum capacity, harvesting thousands of acres of cereal grass at the jointing stage to keep up with the demand. Cerophyl became a popular brand name for two decades.
In the 1950s, the widespread popularity of Cerophyl started to wane with the introduction of One-A-Day Vitamins. It was an era that lauded “the miracles of modern science.” People reasoned that it was better to take one tablet of synthetic vitamins per day than to obtain their vitamins from a natural source by taking twenty Cerophyl tablets. The popularity of Cerophyl gave way to synthetic vitamins that people thought were better and more convenient. Schnabel developed a version of Cerophyl, fortified with synthetic vitamins, so the consumer could reduce the daily requirement from twenty tablets to four, but this second product had limited success. Although Cerophyl continued to be sold to a limited number of long-time customers, it was not until our company, Pines International, reintroduced dehydrated cereal grass (specifically wheat grass) in 1976 as a source of the nutrition in dark green leafy vegetables that the use of cereal grass as a human food began to increase again.
Since starting Pines International, scores of other companies worldwide have copied our message and have developed products with cereal grass as either the only ingredient or the main ingredient. If you walk into any large natural food store today, you will find a section called “green foods” with dozens of products that contain cereal grass. You will find quotes from Charles F. Schnabel and references to his research in the literature of most of these products. You will find books about growing your own wheatgrass that credit Charles F. Schnabel. You can find trays of greenhouse grown wheatgrass. You will also find trays of wheatgrass in nearly every juice shop in shopping malls throughout the world because of those books. If you Google, “Charles F. Schnabel,” you will find nearly 500,000 references to him and to his work.
For me and for more than 200 stockholders of Pines International, we owe our company’s success to Charles F. Schnabel. Hundreds of employees and farmers at Pines International over the years have benefitted because of his work. Thousands of people around the world are employed by companies that exist because of his work, and millions of consumers use dehydrated cereal grass each day or grow wheatgrass in their kitchen based on books that consider Charles F. Schnabel to be “the father of wheatgrass.”
Considering 75 years of improved health for both animals and humans as a result Charles F. Schnabel’s research and the economic impact that grew out of it, Schnabel’s contribution to both animal and human nutrition has made him one of the great pioneers of agriculture during the 20th Century. It is with heartfelt appreciation for his work, that I nominated Charles F. Schnabel, Sr., to the Agricultural Hall of Fame.