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Wheat is one of the oldest and most basic foods of all time and has for centuries been regarded as the staff of life.
History and Origin of Wheat
Wheat us grown on more land area worldwide than any other crop and is a close third to rice and corn in total world production. Wheat is well adapted to harsh environments and is mostly grown on wind swept areas that are too dry and too cold for the more tropically inclined rice and corn, which do best at intermediate temperature levels. Wheat is believed to have originated in southwestern Asia. Some of the earliest remains of the crop have been found in Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. Primitive relatives of present day wheat have been discovered in some of the oldest excavations of the world in eastern Iraq, which date back 9,000 years. Other archeological findings show that bread wheat was grown in the Nile Valley about 5,000 B.C. as well as in India, China, and even England at about the same time. Wheat was first grown in the United States in 1602 on an island off the Massachusetts coast. Man has depended upon the wheat plant for himself and his beast for thousands of years. A global wheat failure would be a disaster that few nations could survive for even one year. Although the so-called bread wheats are common to most of us, there are many uncertainly related species that make up the genus Triticum. This is likely due to a number of natural crossings with wild species during its early evolvement. Some of the species closely related to our common wheats would be einkorn, emmer, durum, and spelt.
Lance Gibson and Garren Benson, Iowa State University, Department of Agronomy. Revised January 2002.
Known Minerals and Vitamins in a Wheat Kernel
Minerals: Calcium Iron Phosphorus Magnesium Potassium Manganese Copper Sulphur Iodine Fluorine Chlorine Sodium Boron Silver Vitamins: Vitamin A, C, E & K Inositol Thiamin b1 Folate Riboflavin B2 or G Choline Pyridoxine B6 Niacin Biotin or H Pantothetic Acid Plus others generally found in bran & Zinc wheat germ
The Miracle of a Wheat Kernel
The wheat kernel, broken down and analyzed, is found to consist of three important parts: 1. Bran, or outer covering, made up of layers rich in many vitamins and minerals as well as high quality protein. This layer constitutes 14% of the wheat kernel and is removed when producing white flour. The bran also happens to be the best source of dietary fiber which aids in digestion and helps ward off disease. 2. Germ, or embryo, from which springs new life. The wheat germ is one of the richest known sources of B and E vitamins and contains protein, fat and mineral matter. The germ and bran contain organic phosphates, which provide brain and nerve food. Calcium for bone and teeth is also supplied from these parts of the kernel. 3. Endosperm, the inner part of the wheat kernel, where cellulose, starch and gluten are abundant, but very little vitamin and mineral substance is present. In white flour about one-half of the fat is lost. The fat from a wheat kernel has high food value, since it also contains unsaturated fatty acids. It is clear that consumption of the balanced, complete kernel is necessary in order to receive the full value from wheat, especially “trace elements” so essential to human nutrition. On the trace elements there is still much to be learned.
Taken from Wheat for Man, Bookcraft, SLC, UT pg. 5, © 1975 (Out of print)
How good of a food is wheat, anyway?
Wheat for man – what makes this a great food? Looking at a nutritional analysis, wheat has much of what we need to keep healthy, especially if it’s been sprouted. Wheat sprouts containing 2900 calories produce 100% of the 50 essential nutrients except for the following, which contain a RDA/DRV of only… ►Fat, 19% ►Potassium, 70% ►Ascorbic Acid, 63 % Adding… ►3 glasses of milk ►2 ½ Tbsp. flax seed ►1 cup of spinach or some other dark green leafy vegetable ►A pinch of salt ►3 Tbsp. oil ►Vitamin B12, 0% ►Salt, 10% ►Vitamin A, 0% ►Calcium, 50% ►Linolenic Acid (18:3/n3), 19%
…Will fill all the deficiencies not found in wheat and give you a diet that could keep you alive for a long, long time. Naturally, you’d want amore varied diet than this if at all possible, but this is just an example of what great food wheat really is and why it’s often called “the staff of life” and the core food for food storage.
The Varieties of Wheat
There are 6 basic U.S. Classes of Wheat, with several hundred varieties of wheat produced in the United States, all of which fall into one of the six recognized classes…
Hard Red Winter Wheat
Wide range of protein content, good milling and baking characteristics. Used to produce bread, rolls, and to a lesser extent, sweet foods and all-purpose flour.
Hard Red Spring Wheat
Contains the highest percentage of protein, making it excellent bread wheat with superior milling and baking characteristics.
Soft Red Winter Wheat
High yielding, but relatively low protein. Used for flat breads, cakes, pastries, and crackers.
The hardest of all U.S. wheat. Has a very high protein and low gluten content. Used to make semolina flour for pasta production.
Hard White Wheat
The newest class of wheat to be frown in the U.S. Closely related to red wheat’s (except for color genes), this wheat has a milder, sweeter flavor, equal fiber and similar milling and baking properties. Used mainly in yeast breads, hard rolls, bulgur (pre-cooked wheat), tortillas, and oriental noodles. White hard wheat makes exceptionally food bread – a lighter loaf than the hard red wheat.
Soft White Wheat
Used in much the same way as Soft Red Winter Wheat (for bakery products other than bread). Low protein, but high yielding. Produces flour for baking cakes, crackers, cookies, pastries, quick breads, muffins and snack foods. Exported to Far East Asian region.
Taken from “The Wheat Grower”, Sep-Oct 1994, as sponsored by the Chicago Board of Grain.
Wheat is one of the longest storing food items around. Whole wheat kernels will store longer and better than when ground up into flour. When storing your wheat at home, make sure it is in food storage containers. Round containers are best when storing wheat since wheat gives off heat and square containers stacked closely together may not allow this heat to escape. You do not want moisture in your wheat because insects can reproduce and spoil the wheat. Wheat should have a moisture level of 10% or less. Store wheat in tightly sealed containers. Don’t store directly on concrete floors or near any moisture. A properly used oxygen absorber will also keep exposure to oxygen minimal. To guard against hatching of insect eggs, treat with dry ice. On top of an almost full five gallon container, place ¼ lb. dry ice on a piece of craft paper (not to touch food). Press lid down gently so some air can escape. After about 20-30 minutes, check to see if the dry ice has completely evaporated. If not, wait another 5 minutes and check again. When ice has completely evaporated, remove material and seal container. A storage temperature of 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit results in fresher wheat. However, 60 degrees Fahrenheit and above is still acceptable. Wheat should also be stored away from apples, onions, potatoes, etc., since the odor or flavor may transfer to the wheat.