I recently wrote a blog post, Fruits and Vegetables Are Always Gluten-Free? Right? Maybe Not. In that post, I discuss that many people who are super-sensitive to gluten were starting to discover that some of their fruits and vegetables were cross-contaminated with gluten and that was the cause of them being glutenized.
Do I Really Have to Be Concerned?
My husband is a farmer. We’ve just begun to harvest vegetables on his farm. The other night, he came home with some beautiful heads of bok choy. He was so proud of them. He really was. They were grown sustainably and organically and looked amazing.
My husband tries to personally pick our vegetables to avoid cross-contamination.
I began washing them for dinner and when I got to the core of one leafy head, I found a blade of wheat.
bok choy with a blade of wheat straw in it
bok choy with the wheat straw
Thought this might be a freak instance. Then I began washing another head of the bok choy and found another piece of wheat straw.
Gluten is in the Seed and Not the Straw
When wheat, rye or barley straw is harvested, the seed or the kernel of wheat is separated from the stalk. The seed is the part of the wheat plant that contains gluten. But could the wheat straw still contain some gluten due to dust and contamination from harvesting?
My husband, the farmer, thinks the straw couldn’t possibly be completely gluten-free as there’s no way to guarantee they’re getting all the seeds out. I’d have to agree with him.
There was a Question and Answer with dietitian Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, an expert on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet, on celiaccentral.com. After reading Question #1, asking if it was okay to handle wheat straw, I contacted Tricia and asked her if it was safe to eat vegetables that had been grown around wheat straw. She felt that carefully washing fruits and vegetables should remove any bits of wheat. She also added that the only way to know for sure is to test products for gluten contamination and that this week at Gluten Free Watchdog, they were testing freeze dried strawberries for this very reason.
What do you think? Is there a possibility of gluten contamination in wheat straw?