Sunday, March 10, 2013

Feed Grain and Human Consumption

This very informative article below about the dangers of eating livestock feed grain and many others can be found in the LDS Preparedness Manual, Handbook #2, 2012 Edition. Download a free copy here; The information within is amazing, I refer to it all the time. It’s a must have 505 page how to reference book for Preparedness.

“Availability of Grains and Legumes”
By:  Alan T. Hagan

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have purchased your grains and legumes from a foods dealer then you needn’t worry about hidden mold infections, fungicides or insecticides that are unsafe for human consumption. In the U.S., the products will have been checked several times by Federal and State agriculture departments and probably by the major foods dealers as well, to ensure its quality.

This is not necessarily the case when you purchase your grains or legumes directly from the farmer or elevator operator as field-run or field-run from storage grain. Nor is it necessarily the case if you’ve made the decision to utilize grains marketed as animal feed. Inspection procedures vary from nation to nation, so if you buy outside of the U.S. inquire of your supplier.

If you are buying your grains and legumes from some place other than a foods dealer, you need to know the history of what you are buying. There is the remote possibility that field-run from storage or any grade of grain not specifically sold for human consumption may have had fumigants, fungicides or insecticides not certified as safe for human foods added while it was in the bin. It is important to know what it has been treated with before you buy it.

Straight field-run grain, other than being dirty, is not likely to have had anything added that would make it undesirable for human consumption. There is, however, the also remote possibility it may have been infected with fungi that would make it unsafe for eating.

One of these fungal infections of grain is called “ergot”. This fungal disease affects the flowering parts of some members of the grass family, mostly confined to rye. Consuming the fungus causes a nervous disorder known as St. Anthony’s Fire. When eaten in large quantities the ergot alkaloids may cause constriction of the blood vessels, particularly in the extremities. The effects of ergot poisoning are cumulative and lead to numbness of the limbs and other, frequently serious, symptoms.

The fungus bodies are hard, spur like, purple-black structures that replace the kernel in the grain head. The ergot bodies can vary in size from the length of the kernel to as much as several times as long. They don’t crush as easily as smut bodies of other funguses. When they are cracked open, the inner broken faces can be off-white, yellow, or tan. The infected grain looks very different from ordinary, healthy rye grains and can be spotted easily. Ergot only rarely affects other grains and will generally afflict rye only when the growing conditions were damp. If you purchase field run rye, you should closely examine it first for the presence of ergot bodies. If you find more than a very, very few pass up that grain and look elsewhere.

Ergot is typically not a problem in the U.S and is easily spotted when it does occur. Other grain fungi, however, are much harder to spot and also have serious consequences should they be consumed. The various species of Aspergillus and Fusarium molds can be a problem almost anywhere.

Animal feed grains or seed grain/legumes are widely available and there are those who want to consider using these 94 sources. Keep in mind that animal feeds are typically dirtier than food grains and may have a higher contaminant level than what is permissible for human consumption. The USDA allows the sale of grain or legumes for animal feed that could not be sold for direct human food use. It may even be mixed varieties of one grain and not all one type. In the case of feed wheat it may have an acceptable protein content but still make miserable raised bread so try milling and baking with a small amount before you put a lot of it away. Seed grains, in particular, must be investigated carefully to find out what they may have been treated with. It is quite common for seed to be coated with fungicides, and possibly other chemicals as well. Once treated, they are no longer safe for human or animal consumption. Be sure to inquire of your supplier. If you do purchase field-run grain of any sort, examine it closely for contamination and moldy grain. Ask the farmer or distributor whether it has been tested for mold or mycotoxin (fungal toxin) content. This is especially the case if you are buying field-run CORN, RYE, SOYBEANS or RICE. When you purchase direct from the field, you may be getting it before it has been checked. Be certain of what it is that you are buying and ask questions if you choose to go this route. Know who you are dealing with. Unless you just can’t find any other source, I don’t recommend using animal feed or seed grains for human food use.


  1. Excellent post! This is why my hens eat only bound-for-humans oats, straight from the grocery store to my cabinets. PLUS, I would never eat other grains or seeds not meant for human consumption. I am going to put your link on my blog.

  2. PP
    I’ve read many comments on other blogs and forums where the poster say’s they long term store feed grains because it’s so much cheaper, I’ve always questioned the sanity of those people. Common sense tells me this is a bad idea so I began researching this topic. It is a very involved topic with many, many health risks to understand. The other week I received an e-mail from a reader asking about this topic so I got out some notes and decided to use Alan’s excellent explanation even though it does not cover all the issues of why it’s not a good idea.

  3. For long term corn storage use popcorn from sams or costco.its just a hard red flint corn.If you live near amish country or viit during harvest you may be able to get a good supply from a trustable source.

  4. Gary,
    Some people do store popcorn. Myself, I don’t care for it plus it’s hard on my grain mill. For the little extra it costs and the couple hundred lbs I store I just by it from Honeyville Grains and have something that is familiar in taste and cooking.
    And yes if you know a farmer and he complies with all the FDA requirements for chemical insect control, mold and moisture testing it can save you a few dollars. But again this food may save my life and for the small amount I store I don’t feel it’s worth the risk.