Monday, May 14, 2007

History Of Whole Wheat

Long before refrigeration, microwaveable foods, and artificial chemicals, people traveled from place to place to find food. They would pick and eat whatever grew wild and whatever they could find. However, when the population began to grow and more and more food got harder to find, the travelers had to settle and figure out how to grow food themselves.

Wheat could have possibly been one of the first plants to be cultivated, due to how well it adapts to harsh environments this seems likely. After it was discovered you could grow wheat, big changes started taking place. People realized they could grow their own food, so they no longer needed to wander in search of it. The stable food supply caused people to settle permanently.

The travelers became farmers, and as the growing of wheat progressed, so did the farmer's knowledge. They began to make the wheat easier to grow and eat. Gradually they started choosing kernels from their best wheat plants for the next years' planting. Which eventually ended up producing better crops and better quality of wheat that was passed down from one generation to the next. Very quickly wheat became one of the world's most important crops and to this day is grown on more land area worldwide than any other crop!

It has been said that the first evidence of wheat was discovered in the Middle East. When farmers began producing enough crops to feed people from other lands, trading between the various lands and cultures began. Eventually wheat made it's way from the Middle East to England and other countries, then into the United States with Columbus back in the late 1400s and early 1500s. Over time, the growing of wheat spread to many continents and countries and is still one of the highest producing crops in the world.

All of the wheat grains were consumed or milled whole with the bran, germ, and endosperm part of the wheat still intact. However, a new way of milling and mass refining took hold in the wheat business when the industrialization wave hit America in the later 1800s. These manufacturers began removing the bran and germ from the wheat, because it meant that the wheat products could sit longer on grocery store shelves without spoiling. However, during this process almost all the essential vitamins and minerals (not to mention the dietary fiber from the bran) are removed. Since this time there have been increasing health problems throughout America and other countries.

Today, whole wheat has been taking the notice of nutrition experts to contain healthy phytochemicals and nutrients that are essential for good health. So let's get back to eating whole wheat, people used to eat it whole long before we started eating it without the bran and germ, and in most cases they even lived longer back then!

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