The first cereal grains were domesticated about 12,000 years ago by ancient farming communities in the Fertile Crescent region. Emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, and barley were three of the so-called Neolithic founder crops in the development of agriculture.
Cereals are cultivated for the edible components of their grain composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran. Cereal grains are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other type of crop, therefore they are considered staple crops.
In their natural whole grain form they are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, oils, and protein. However, when refined by the removal of the bran and germ, the remaining endosperm is mostly carbohydrate and lacks the majority of the other nutrients. In some developing nations, grain in the form of rice, wheat, millet, or maize constitutes a majority of daily sustenance.
Grains have been a pillar of the human diet since the dawn of agriculture some 12,000 years ago. Whole grains are one of the four key essential food groups according to the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine and even the government food guide recommends eating at least 50 % of grain products in their whole form.
Some grains are deficient in the essential amino acid lysine and that is why many vegetarian cultures, in order to get a balanced diet, combine their diet of grains with legumes. Many legumes, on the other hand, are deficient in the essential amino acid methionine, which grains contain. Thus a combination of legumes with grains forms a well-balanced diet for vegetarians.
– Maize (corn) A staple food of people in America, Africa, and of livestock worldwide. A large portion of maize crops are grown for purposes other than human consumption.
– Rice is the primary cereal of tropical and some temperate regions
– Wheat is the primary cereal of temperate regions. It has a worldwide consumption but it is a staple food of North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
– Barley is grown for malting and livestock on land too poor or too cold for wheat
– Sorghum is an important staple food in Asia and Africa and popular worldwide for livestock
– Millet is a group of similar but distinct cereals that form an important staple food in Asia and Africa.
– Oats are formerly the staple food of Scotland and popular worldwide as a winter breakfast food and livestock feed
– Triticale is a hybrid of wheat and rye, grown similarly to rye
– Rye is an important crop in cold climates
– Buckwheat is a pseudocereal. Its major use is for various pancake and groats
– Fonio is grown as a food crop in Africa
– Quinoa is a pseudocereal grown in the Andes
Join us on July 6th from 1-5 pm at the Haliburton County Farmers’ Market where our weekly theme is all about “Great Grains”.
Don’t forget to visit our “Weekly Events Guide“ for more information!