Awned the New Organic
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Second, organic replaced chemically grown whole grains and other plant-quality foods.
Third, awned rice is on the verge of entering the food supply as the next wave in raising human awareness and creating a sustainable planet. At the Macrobiotic Summer Conference in August, a small amount of awned rice donated by South River Farm was featured at the closing Gala. Then at the Thanksgiving celebration at Eastover, awned brown rice was served in the main grain dish (mixed with sweet rice and wild rice). This winter, the Amber Waves Network (AWN), a division of the nonprofit Planetary Health, Inc., began distributing a small volume of awned rice from Wild Folk Farm in Maine to donors for ceremonial use.
As part of the new rice revolution, organic brown rice is now grown com- mercially for the first time in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and other Eastern states. We plan to encourage other farmers to grow awned rice and add it to our new label Lima Rice, named after macrobiotic pioneer Lima Ohsawa, who lived to be 100.
The Legacy of Awned Grain
In the classic description of the Golden Age, the long bygone era of peace and plenty, the Roman poet Ovid observed that awned grain served as principal food: “The spring was everlasting, and gentle zephrs with warm breath played with the flowers that sprang unplanted. Anon the earth, untilled, brought forth her stores of grain, and the fields, though unfallowed, grew white with the heavy, bearded wheat.”
Close up, awns look like facial hair on the growing heads or kernels of grain; hence the name “bearded.” They may be short or long, single or multiple, curved or straight. Some grains have long beards, between 4-7 inches. Others are only 1/2 to 1 inch, virtual stubble. Awnless grains were traditionally known as “beardless” or “bald.”
Like antennae, awns gather and absorb the waves and vibrations of the cosmos, including the sun, moon, stars, and distant galaxies. Although the beards are removed—or we might say shaved—during harvest and before eating, the cosmic energy goes into the kernels. When ingested as a whole grain, porridge, bread, or other grain product, that quanta of stored energy influences our body, mind, and spirit. At night, awns rotate and point downward, also gathering the deep energy of the earth.
Awns also serve a practical function. Their tiny barbs hinder mammals from nibbling, as well as adhere to their fur for propagating. As the grain ripens and naturally falls to earth, the awns serve as rotating blades to drive the seeds deeper into the soil than if they fell flat on the ground. Similarly, during increased humidity at nights, the bristles straighten vertically, twine together, and further push the seed into the soil. During the day, when the humidity drops, the awns open again, and fine silica hairs on the bristles prevent the seeds from reversing direction. In this way, the awns can propel the seed into the earth up to an inch, ensuring that more will germinate.
For most of human existence, our forebears consumed strong, wild awned grains. During periods of high natural electromagnetic radiation, when the Milky Way galaxy was directly over- head (e.g., about 15,000-20,000 years ago), the enhanced energy created an era of abundance and tranquility that was remem- bered as the time of Paradise. Awned rice, wheat, barley, and other grains were the key to channeling this powerful energy. Meanwhile, as the constellations precessed, the Milky Way dropped in the sky and its energy diminished. Wild grains and other food became scarce, and cultivation began. The significance of awned grains was gradually lost.
With the spread of farming about 10,000 years ago, awnless varieties of grains were selected by early cultivators. These new domesticed awnless strains gave higher yields, required less labor to process, and resulted in a smoother, more uniform prod- uct with less spikes, straw, and other residue. Awnless rice was favored in Asia and Africa, and since ancient times Chinese, Indian, and Africa rice (Japonica, Indica, and Glaberrima) were primarily grown without awns.
A small number of awned rice varieties survived, particularly in remote and isolated regions. The type grown by South River and Wild Folk farms is called Duborskian, and comes from Ukraine and Russia. It is a dry land variety, yields beautiful tall plants and long awns, and readily acclimates to temperate climates in North America. “The awns serve like antennae,” explains Ben Rooney of Wild Folk. “Watch your harvested drying kernels shoot up towards the sky and rotate, as they are drying or being stored.”
Unlike rice, the long beautiful, yin awns of barley, wheat, and rye contribute to photosynthesis, produce larger heads, and give higher yields. As a result, awned varieties were favored in the Middle East and Europe and continue to be grown today. The Bible often mentions fresh heads of grain, including “hairy barley” (seorim in Hebrew). Awnless barley is used for making hay. Hard winter wheat, which is used for bread and baked goods and contains the highest amount of protein, is awned and accounts for more than 40% of the U.S. wheat crop. Durum wheat, used for making pasta and noodles, is also awned.
Oats and common yellow millet, known as foxtail millet, have small awns. The name “foxtail” refers to the plant’s awns or fox-like brushes. Glutinous millet (broomcorn) tends to have slightly fuller awns as its name suggests. Sorghum comes in both awned and awnless varieties. Maize has soft corn silk, rather than awns, that aid in pollination and will naturally detach when fertilized. Data on awns is not easy to come by, so it’s hard to estimate the extent to which any single grain, or the world’s grain supply as a whole, is awned.
In some places, awns are actually used in cooking or baking. In Crete, awns are traditionally ground and added to hulled barley to make whole grain bread. The special bread is held to contribute to the country’s low cancer rate.
In effect, awned grains are small natural batteries that gather, collect, and charge us with the spiraling energy of heaven and earth. Awnless grains, especially those that are grown organically, still contribute to daily health and well-being. But the strong extra quanta of Ki, or life energy, in awned grains attune us to the higher, deeper frequencies of the cosmos, including universal images of peace, love, beauty, and truth. The incoming energy also helps us to align with larger cycles of change such as the precession of the equinoxes.
The Centrality of Rice
Cooked grains as a whole shaped and influenced our unique human form and structure, differentiating us from earlier pri- mates who ate primarily raw fruit, seeds, and nuts. Eating wild grasses as main food gave our ancestors flexibility, adaptability, higher consciousness, and the ability to visualize and realize their dreams.
Each type of grain further gives slightly different qualities. Wheat, barley, and oats contribute to creativity, artistry, and adventure. Maize and quinoa lend warmth, passion, and radi- ance. Millet creates a resourceful, practical mind, as well as sympathy and understanding. Buckwheat gives confidence and will power. Rice develops synthesis, unity, and oneness. In a world divided by competing goals, allegiances, and identities, these unifying qualities are needed more than ever. Compared to other grains, rice lacks a seam in the middle and is the most biologically advanced of all cereal plants.
Eating a balanced plant-based diet, including whole grain rice, is the foundation for planetary health and peace. For half the world, rice is the main staple. It is vital that whole, organic, and awned rice and other grains be consumed as humanity addresses age-old problems related to disease, injustice, and war and constructs a new golden age.
To optimize your health and consciousness, the following guidelines may be observed:
1. Make whole grains the foundation of your diet
2. Eat whole grain rice (brown rice) at least once a day. Awnless is fine for daily health and well-being
3. Obtain a small amount of awned brown rice for ceremonial or meditative use until it becomes more widely available for regular use
4. Eat other awned grains and grain products regularly, especially barley, whole wheat, rye, and spelt that are generally awned. Millet, sorghum, and quinoa are excellent for general health and vitality and may or may not have awns
5. Keep a food journal and jot down the effects of awned vs. awnless, e.g., how you feel physically, mentally or emotionally, as well as dreams, visions, etc. Several friends who obtained packages of Lima Rice at Planetary Health’s Thanksgiving celebration contacted us afterward and said the awned rice was the best they ever ate and enhanced their well-being at many levels.
6. Grow awned rice in your garden or in a bucket on your windowsill or patio. Instructions on how to grow your own rice are available on our new website: www.amberwavesofgrain. com. Duborskian seeds are available very affordably from Wild Folk Farm and Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co, rice/
7. Educate others about awned grains, distribute copies of The Rice Revolution (Amberwaves Press, 2017), and support the Amber Waves Network (AWN) ❖
Alex Jack is the president of Amberwaves and co-author of The One Peaceful World Cookbook with Sachi Kato.