The War On Wheat profiles Dr. William Davis, author of the influential best-selling book Wheat Belly, a work that is largely considered the bible of those on a wheat-free diet. A charismatic man who believes genetically modified wheat is a universal health threat, this film presents his claims while questioning the lack of scientific evidence behind them.
While more doctors have been advising patients with diagnosed food sensitivities to steer away from wheat and gluten, Davis equates all North American wheat with "garbage", declaring it an addictive opiate that poses a risk to all who consume it. Consumers have not taken his claims lightly - since the beginning of the wheat-free craze companies including major cereal manufacturers and commercial bakeries have felt a significant negative impact on sales, with some businesses having to close entirely.
CBC's Mark Kelley interviews Canadian dietary scientists and researchers, such as McGill University's Joe Schwartz, to present counter-arguments to Davis' claims. Schwartz is just one of the many subjects that argues there is no hard science to back his crusade against wheat. He claims the evidence Davis cites in his book is "cherry-picked" data that has been manipulated into seeming more compelling than it should be. Similarly, diet expert Yoni Freedhoff likens Davis to an evangelical preacher, a showman who is full of promise but no substance. Perhaps most damning is the fact that not a single registered health organization - not even the Canadian Celiac Association - support the elimination of wheat for anyone not diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
Why, then, is the anti-wheat craze so popular? Health policy professor and author of Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? Timothy Caulfield correlates the impact of celebrity endorsement on fad diets with the popularity of wheat-free eating, and indeed Davis has received much attention from major talk shows and Hollywood figureheads.
A provocative look at the dizzying and confusing area of food and dietary science, The War on Wheat reveals the minimal influence science has had in dissuading the general public from believing genetically modified crops present a serious health threat and leaves viewers wondering who to believe when it comes to beliefs about food consumption.