The history of wheatgrass and other green superfoods goes back more than 80 years to the research by Charles Schnabel and other scientists.  Those pioneers operated out of the same location now used by Pines International.  Pines still uses one of their laboratories and many of their fields north of Lawrence, Kansas.

Schnabel’s team discovered that the nutritional-density of wheatgrass and other cereal grass reaches a peak level at a special time.  That occurs in the early spring and lasts for only a few days. It is known as the “jointing stage.” In winter wheat growing regions, the stage occurs once each year after a winter of slow growth.

The Wheatgrass Research Promoted by Ann Wigmore

Schnabel and the other scientists developed methods to dry the cereal grass leaves. They milled the dried leaves into a powder. The consumer mixed the powder with foods or consumed it in tablet form. Because green vegetable powder loses nutrition through oxidation, the scientists used amber glass bottles with special metal caps so they could vacuum the oxygen from each bottle.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Schnabel provided his Cerophyl powder and tablets to doctors and hospitals for scores of medical studies.  That resulted in a phenomenal body of medical research.  The research showed the efficacy of cereal grass for all sorts of conditions, especially those involved with blood and toxicity.

lab sign

This sign is outside the laboratory now operated by Pines.

The History of the World’s First Multi-Vitamin

Schnabel and the other scientists also promoted Cerophyl as a multi-vitamin.  Twenty cereal grass tablets or a heaping tablespoon of powder provided the minimum daily requirement of all known vitamins and minerals.  At that time, scientists frequently announced the discovery of new vitamins. The media followed those developments, so Cerophyl’s popularity grew as each new vitamin was discovered to be in Cerophyl.  Nearly every pharmacy in the United States sold Cerophyl.

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As a result of the published medical studies, doctors prescribed Cerophyl for many conditions.  They routinely prescribed it for pregnant and nursing mothers. Doctors also prescribed for several blood disorders. They prescribed it for improved bowel function and for less offending bowel odors.

Only One Tablet Needed for All Your Vitamins?

Unfortunately, the perception of Cerophyl as a multi-vitamin resulted in decreased sales in the 1950s and 1960s with the introduction of synthetic vitamins.  Consumers perceived products such as One-A-Day Vitamins as more convenient.  A consumer needed only one multi-vitamin tablet per day instead of twenty Cerophyl tablets for vitamin supplementation.

The Save You Life Diet and the Importance of Fiber

Dependence on synthetic vitamins began to change in 1975 with the publication of the book, “The Save Your Life Diet” by David Reuben.  Rather than feeling secure in one’s health by taking synthetic vitamins, Dr. Reuben pointed out that healthy people in other cultures consumed whole food vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains.  Because of the nutrition and especially the fiber in natural whole foods, Reuben’s studies of “primitive” societies showed they did not have the same kind of diseases as Western ones.  He showed much higher rates of heart disease, cancer and other degenerative diseases in our culture compared to cultures whose diets were rich in natural foods containing plenty of fiber.


Reuben Inspired the Birth of Pines International

Inspired by Reuben’s message and seeking to increase the fiber and nutrient-dense vegetable nutrition in their own diets, the founders of Pines tried Cerophyl tablets.  They noticed improved bowel function and skin condition.  As Reuben promised, they also experienced increased energy, stamina and vitality.

In 1976, when the founders of Pines realized the potential for Cerophyl, few consumers still used it. Clearly, the multi-vitamin message no longer worked. The founders of Pines envisioned a new product, Pines Wheat Grass. Instead of describing their product as a multi-vitamin, they planned to market it as a convenient and economical, nutrient-dense whole food, leafy green vegetable containing essential fiber. They planned to carefully follow Dr. Schnabel’s standards including the use of amber glass bottles with special metal caps so the oxygen could be removed from each bottle. Here is a picture of one of the first bottles produced on April 12, 1977.

pines wheatgrass 1977

The history of Pines is an example of true free enterprise. Rather than finding one or two wealthy people to fund their efforts, Pines’ founders depended on more than 100 investors. The average investment was $200.  In addition to bringing Dr. Reuben’s and Dr. Schnabel’s messages to the world, the investors had other high expectations for Pines.  They wanted Pines to promote organic farming, sustainable communities and to help feed the hungry.


One of Pines’s fields turned back to Native Prairie. For more than 40 years PINES’ priority has been environmental sustainability & preventing hunger. Our record of contributions shows our commitment.

Pines’ Green Superfoods are Organic and Non GMO

All Pines’ products are Certified Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten free and Kosher. They are available at leading natural food stores or direct through our shopping cart.


Books by Wigmore, Kulvinskas and Meyerowitz

A few years after Pines Wheat Grass was on the shelves of natural food stores as the first “green superfood,” several authors published books about wheatgrass.  Surprisingly, the “wheatgrass” in these books was grown in a completely different manner than the methods used by Schnabel.  Authors such as Ann Wigmore, Viktoras Kulvinskas and Steve Meyerowitz praised Schnabel’s research. Unfortunately, due to apparent ignorance about farming, they did not understand Schnabel’s methods. They promoted growing wheatgrass indoors in trays. In addition, instead of following the research using wheatgrass powder as a the whole food containing fiber, they recommended drinking extracted juice from wheatgrass grown in a completely unnatural manner.


In other words, they used Schnabel’s research, based on the powder from whole food wheatgrass, to promote a growing method for wheatgrass Schnabel never used.

For example, Schnabel’s wheatgrass grew with plenty of space between plants so each plant had room to grow properly.  His wheatgrass grew outdoors through the freezing winter temperatures.  The roots went deep in rich glacial soil. The roots were not blocked by the bottom of a tray.

Instead of growing wheatgrass naturally, these authors promoted extremely unnatural methods. They promoted planting the seeds 300 times closer than normal and growing the plants indoors in trays at temperatures four times higher than normal. The result of such crowded conditions and far-too-rapid growth is spindly leaves that are quite pale by comparison. The chlorophyll content is only 1/4 as much as the real wheatgrass Schnabel grew naturally.

A Book that Correctly Documented the Scientific Research

In most of the books about wheatgrass, the authors praised Schnabel’s research. Yet, they did not understand the 4,000-year old history of how wheatgrass grows. They implied that growing wheatgrass in a tray and drinking the juice was Schnabel’s method.  One author even dedicated his book to Schnabel and called him “The Father of Wheatgrass.”

With all the misinformation, an organic farmer and student of Schnabel, Ron Seibold, corrected the record by publishing a book with a 133 item bibliography that documented the scientific research and history of wheatgrass.  That book is available for free online.

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The Fun of Growing Wheatgrass in Your Kitchen

During the past 30 years, the popularity of growing wheatgrass under extremely unnatural and crowded conditions has become a popular fad.  People enjoy growing plants in their kitchen and producing their own green drink. Juice bars enjoy having trays of the unnatural wheatgrass on display. Customers enjoy watching them “harvest” and juice it.

Unfortunately, unnatural and crowded conditions and forcing the plant to grow so quickly causes a tangle of roots in the bottom of the tray. That tangle of roots, along with rotting seeds placed in too-close proximity, leads to high levels of mold, bacteria and a flavor that is everything but natural. Some people report feeling sick after drinking it. Some have contracted candida mold in their digestive tract from drinking it.  A few have even ended up in hospitals from drinking it.

The Difference is Dramatic

The pictures below show the difference between tray grown wheatgrass and real wheatgrass.  Tray wheatgrass is in the top picture and real wheatgrass is in the bottom picture.  Both are about the same height, but the real wheatgrass is much darker green because it contains four time more chlorophyll. The roots of the real wheatgrass grow more than a foot deep in the rich glacial soil.

comparing true with tray - Copy

Proponents call this extracted juice of moldy wheatgrass a “wheatgrass shot.” The most zealous proponents have claimed that wheatgrass grown in trays is the only kind of wheatgrass that has value. Such claims are absurd considering the history.  More than 80 years of testimonials and a long history of extensive research using whole food wheatgrass powder from plants grown as nature intended shows that real wheatgrass is very beneficial. The medical history was with naturally-grown, whole food wheatgrass powder and tablets, not juice from plants grown unnaturally in a tray.

Wheatgrass Shots are not Prebiotic

The popularity of “wheatgrass shots” is on a steady decline as a result of increased recognition of prebiotics.  To be prebiotic, a vegetable must still contain its natural fiber. Prebiotic food supports the growth of probiotic bacteria. In other words, without fiber, probiotic bacteria do not have the environment they need to grow in the digestive tract.  Probiotic bacteria are the “friendly bacteria” that are important for proper digestion and assimilation.

The importance of consuming prebiotic foods led to popularity of whole food smoothies rather than extracted juices.  In recent years, juice machines are losing out to whole food blending equipment used for whole food smoothies.  For added nutrition and powder, we suggest adding a scoop of whole food nutrient-dense, dark green powder from Pines to the blender.

The concept of prebiotics confirms what Dr. Reuben said more than 40 years ago.  Juices may be harmless on an occasional basis, especially when mixed with whole foods, but they are not prebiotic. Over use of juice is not healthy. Without fiber, juices pass through the digestive tract too quickly to provide nourishment for probiotic bacteria.  The disease conditions outlined by Dr. Reuben are exasperated by removing the fiber from vegetables and fruits.

Although juices are not as good for the digestive system as whole foods, the picture below shows the difference in color of real wheatgrass in juice form compared with a tray grown “wheatgrass shot.” Besides being much lighter in color, the high mold and bacteria levels of the tray grown wheatgrass along with the completely unnatural way it is grown results in a terrible flavor compared to the juice from real wheatgrass.

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Whole Food Smoothies are Better than Juices

More recent research confirms the history of Dr. Reuben’s message about consuming whole foods rather than juices. A study last year by Dr. Eric Martens, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School, shows that without whole food fiber, extracted juice can interfere with gut ecology. Martens and his associates discovered that juice without fiber allows organisms in the intestine eat away at the protective mucosal layer of the gut wall.

Except for Pines products, most of the cereal grass on the market is not harvested at the time that Dr. Schnabel found it to have the peak nutritional level. Even so, unless the green superfood product is “dried juice,” it still contains fiber and is prebiotic.

Because of the increased recognition of the importance of whole foods rather than juice, the sales of whole food cereal grass and alfalfa products will grow significantly in the months and years ahead. Although cereal grass and alfalfa are not always grown for maximum nutrient-density and are often mixed with less nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits, as long as the blend is made up of mostly whole foods containing fiber, they can help prevent the disease conditions outlined by Dr. Reuben.

Mix Pines’ Green Superfoods with Smoothies

You will find many recipes for smoothies and other ways to add Pines’ green superfood powders to your food.

recipe collage for tray grown article

Single Ingredient Products are the Best Value

Although some companies claim that adding less nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits improves flavor, the main reason for making complex blends with these inexpensive ingredients is to lower cost. Although less nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits cost less, they tend to dilute the efficacy and nutritional-density of cereal grasses and alfalfa that are in the mixtures.

These complex blends do not offer as much in the way of nutrition as a 100% cereal grass and alflafa product from Pines grown for maximum nutritional density.  Further, any green superfood that is packaged in plastic has lost nutritional value due to oxidation.  Even so, if they contain whole food powders rather than extracted juice powders, they can provide additional fiber to the diet. As Dr. Reuben clearly showed 40 years ago, a lack of fiber is linked to many diseases of Western civilization. Whole food superfoods help offset a the damage caused by the low-fiber diets. They help to prevent the diseases Dr. Reuben outlined through his outstanding cross-cultural research in “The Save Your Life Diet.”