A number of Chennaites seem to have found that the grass is greener… especially when it comes from wheat.And, of late, demand for this micro-green -which die-hard consumers insist is a bite sized blade against toxicity -seems to be increasing.
The Gulechas, for instance, who run organic store Dharti Dhaan, have been so swamped with orders that they now take them at least one week in advance. “While wheatgrass powder is readily available, people want fresh grass, which is a little difficult to grow at home. We have been trying to keep up with the demand, especially since in the summer months wheatgrass does not grow well,” says Pranay Gulecha.
What started as a hobby 14 years ago for his mother Shobha was turned into a full fledged business by Pranay in 2015 when he realised the demand was rapidly increasing.Pranay has now started developing frozen wheatgrass shots, which can be dissolved in water and consumed.
Mumbai-based macrobiotic chef Shonali Sabherwal says wheatgrass has intense levels of magnesium that helps in vitamin D absorption. “Every diet needs its greens and so I recommend a green a day ,” says Sabherwal, adding that wheatgrass shots or powder stirred into water is one of the fastest ways of getting greens into the body . “Greens also push the iron content up and rev up and detoxify the liver,” she adds.
Popular among the health-conscious, and those trying to manage diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and even cancer, wheat grass supplier Sanjay Jain, who goes by the name `#wheatgrasschennai”, says people being treated for cancer make up the majority of his customers. The demand for wheatgrass in the form of pills, shots, powders, juices, and fresh grass shows no signs of dying down.
Deepa Latha, 35, a homemaker, cannot do without a steady supply of her shots. “I get 200g of wheatgrass delivered every week, then split it into 50g bundles and juice one a day ,” she says. While she claims the wheatgrass has boosted her energy levels, she admits that drinking it first thing in the morning does take a boost of willpower. “It takes exactly as it sounds -like grass,” she says.
But while the internet is rife with articles praising the `cure-all’, wheatgrass (from the wheat plant Triticum aestivum), which purportedly has the power to cleanse the colon, purify the blood, and detoxify the liver, nutritionists and doctors are a little sceptical about just how potent the leaves are. “I don’t recommend it, but I don’t stop my clients from consuming it either,” says sports nutritionist Shiny Chandran. “It is an alkalizing agent, like other greens, and helps balance acidity caused by stress, oily food and excessive caffeine consumption, but is it a miracle cure?
I don’t think so,” she says.
Ayurvedic physician Raichal Rebecca Philip says the green is just “overly hyped”. “There are so many other greens readily available and less expensive – like the leafy varieties of spinach -which do the same job. So while there is nothing wrong with wheatgrass, there is nothing wrong with any other green either,” she adds.