"Better," that's such a subjective term. Tastier? Weight stabilizing? Cancer, diabetes, heart disease preventing? Easier to digest? Less painful on the pocketbook? More lucrative for business? Depends on who you ask, I suppose. But I see benefits in preserving ancient grains.
There's a problem with access. It's difficult to feed a population with a food that isn't being cultivated to any great extent. There are reasons today's grains were selected over ancient grains - seed dormancy, height of plant (proximity to soil nutrients), ability to separate husks and glumes from grain, yield of plant, time to harvest, natural drought and pest resistance, and more recently ability to patent (profit).
Advocating a food which is difficult to access is like telling someone who lives in Canada that coconuts are really good for you; it's a shame you can't grow them.
Another thought, if you're comparing older grains to foods found in stores today, that is, if you're grinding these grains to a powder, then they will present the same problem of accelerated digestion as the flour-based foods of today.
Recall the study in this post:
Eating Processed Food Makes It Easier To Gain Weight
Two groups of rats were fed either standard pellets or easily-chewed, soft pellets (made softer by increasing air content, as is done in breakfast cereals). The rats ate the same number of calories, with the same macronutrient content (carbs, fat, protein), but:
- After 18 weeks, "body weight in the soft-fed group was significantly greater
(Possible mechanism: Less energy needed for digestion/assimilation in the soft-fed group. Lower thermogenesis, both post-meal and overnight, was associated with easier-to-digest food.)
It's vital that we continue to cultivate older seeds. Their DNA code for proteins we may find beneficial, nutritionally and medicinally. As food, their macro- and micronutrient make-up is different than that of modern seeds. The medicinal potential being lost in the Amazon by extinction of older plants - because we raze the land for pasture or crops or cities - is heartbreaking and shortsighted. We may need to restore this DNA data from a backup if we discover our current agricultural hard drive has deteriorated.
My feeling - If you choose to eat grains it's best to eat a variety. It matters more that the grain, which is just a seed, is fresh, not bioengineered (which is distinct from normal hybridization or selective breeding), organic if you can get it (fewer pesticides), and not ground into flour ... than how old its DNA is. It's also a good idea to germinate the seed a little before you prepare it. Soak or sprout it. Among other things, germinating will reduce the amount of gluten, a protein many people have difficulty digesting.
I'll get around to writing a recipe for it. It's so basic and easy. Take about 2 cups of whole wheat kernels, soak them overnight, sprout them for a day or 2, grind them, and bake in a covered pot. I let the loaf rest in a warm oven to set up, which is what you see in the photo.