Abstract: the making of pasta, cereals, and especially


is one of the earliest crops humans used and domesticated in order to advance
as early agricultural farmers. It was already an important crop when history
was first being recorded, so highly accurate information on its date of origin
and original naming is not available. We do know that it has been one of the
most widely used and depended upon staple crops since man first began to
domesticate food in their transition from nomadic hunter/gathers to settled
farmers. Since then, wheat has been used all around the globe, impacting
economics, religion and many different aspects of society. It can be argued as
one of, if not the most influential crop in human history.

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are many different varieties of wheat, but we will be focusing on common wheat.
This specific type of wheat is so important due to its high gluten content and
its wide range of climates in which it can be grown. It is used in the making
of pasta, cereals, and especially bread making. For this reason, it is often
referred to as bread wheat.  The
scientific name for this species of wheat is known as Triticum aestivum L. It
is classified into the Plantae Kingdom, the Monilophyta Phylum, the Liliopsida
Class, and the Poaceae Family (USDA, 2017). Since it grows best in climates
also suitable for humans, it is immensely popular around the world. Generally,
between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit is best suitable for high yields of bread
wheat. It also needs plenty of sun light and water (35%-45% by weight) in order
to successfully germinate. These conditions are not unrealistic and are the
reason approximately 95% of all wheat grown worldwide is bread wheat (Shewry
2009). Without this valuable crop, life as we know it around the globe would be
immensely different.

Origin and Domestication:

best approximation on the approximate date of origin of wheat was about 10,000
years ago during the Neolithic revolution. This was a time of global change in
human lifestyle from a hunter and gatherer lifestyle of nomadic survival, to
the huge advancement of agricultural development and the cultivation and
domestication of specific crops that were of direct benefit to humans. For the
first time, as opposed to natural selection of species that survived in nature,
artificial selection began to occur. Early humans began to seek out and select
specific types of crops that benefited their needs and began to plant the seeds
of these plants and cared for them as opposed to that natural survival and
growth of the crops (Weisdorf 2005). This forever changed the natural growth of
wild plants around the world. The plants and crops that normally would have
survived would have been the ones that had features and traits that would have
allowed them to survive on their own. These traits could be anything from
predator or consumer repellent, nutrient absorption or weathering and erosion
protection. Now the species of crops that would survive would be the ones that
produced excessive amounts of consumable features, were easy to cultivate and
lacked any parts that would hinder the functionality for humans. Two of the
most important traits passed down were the increase in grain size and the
development of the non-shattering seed. The benefits of the large grain size
have helped to ensure the successful germination and growth of seedlings in
fields cultivated by humans as opposed to naturally occurring fields. The
development of the non-shattering seed was even more beneficial to humans due
to the fact that it prevents natural seed dispersal and allows humans the
opportunity collect and harvest the seed with optimal timing for use in human
consumption (Eckardt 2010). After humans discovered not only all the positive uses
of wheat but also how easy it was to grow and cultivate, it was used for the
remainder of history and the methods of growing and cultivating became much

Parts Used:

every single part of the plant is usable as food. The main portions of the
plant that are used are the wheat bran, the wheat germ and the endosperm. Parts
like the roots and stalks are not of nutritional value but are still utilized.
Farmers use these parts for straw in use of hay bails and animal feed. But
generally, the processing of wheat is used mainly to extract the bran, germ and
endosperm. The bran is essentially the hard outer covering of the wheat kernel.
The germ is the nutrient rich wheat embryo that would eventually sprout and
grow into a new plant. The endosperms are the starchy insides of the kernel.
The endosperms are also the largest part of the kernel and makes up about 83%
of the entire kernel, and is filled with nutrients that the germ would use for
food (fig 1). All parts have different benefits to humans as well. For example,
the bran is immensely high in fiber as well as vitamins B6 and E but is not the
tastiest part of the plant. Some Studies have also shown that wheat bran may
have a beneficial effect on the prevention of certain diseases, including some
cancers (in particular colorectal cancer), CVD, obesity and some
gastrointestinal diseases, including diverticular disease, constipation and
irritable bowel syndrome (Stevenson, Phillips, O’sullivan, Walton 2012). The
wheat germ takes up about 2.5–3.8% of total seed weight and is an important
part of the wheat. Although often overlooked as simply a biproduct of flour
processing, the germ contains lipids (healthy fats), proteins, sugars, fiber
and minerals such as magnesium, calcium and zinc (Hidalgo 2011). The endosperm
is the main nutrients part of the seed that is often separated from the other
parts and processed into white flour. This is the starchiest part of the wheat
and the main reason it has been so useful in bread making throughout history.
But separating the three main parts is not always necessary. Simply grinding
the whole kernels with the bran and germ still intact is the way whole wheat
flour is made. Although usually tougher and more dense, whole wheat foods are
much healthier due to the added nutrients and fiber from the bran and germ.


Method of Harvesting/ Processing:

of the wheat has typically been the most labor-intensive part of the
cultivating. Though traditionally done with a sickle, scythe or a reaper, the
harvesting process has been altered dramatically with the advancement of
technology. Though the method of harvesting by hand with these tools is still
used today in some parts of the world, most crop harvesting done in the united
states is done with large tractors. When done by hand, the process can be very
time consuming and laborious. First a person uses a very sharp tool. A scythe
is a very long handled tool with a large curved blade on the end that is used
with 2 hands. This type of tool is good for long wheat stalks. A sickle is much
shorter and used with only one hand on short stalked wheat. After using the
tool to cut down a group of wheat stalks, the wheat is tied and bundled into
groups called sheaves. Usually the bundling process is done by a second person
following the cutter. The sheaves are then collected and stacked into piles
called stooks. They resemble native American teepees. Stooks are carefully
created in the fields so the wheat can continue to dry. The wheat loses water
weight as it dries, and will store longer and better if it is the proper
moisture content before it is stored or processed (Fig 2). These stooks allow
air to circulate around the wheat heads, quickly drying the wheat. In an
industrial farming situation, none of this would take place. The entire process
is done with one swoop by a tractor which combines all of the steps, including
threshing and winnowing, all at once by the machine. In the machine, the wheat
sheaves are fed into the thresher which beats the wheat from the wheat heads.
Winnowing takes the wheat and separates it from the unusable husk that
surrounds it. Once the wheat is removed it can begin being processed into its
edible parts (Pawar, Shirsat, Pathak 2008). The wheat is processed and
separated to increase its shelf life. In its separate forms (bran, germ and
endosperm) it can be packaged and stored for a very long time without going
bad. In ancient times, this process was mostly skipped, and the wheat was
simply washed, ground into a fine powder and used in bread making. Since around
the 1800’s, machines were used to help process the wheat. Before wheat can be
ground into flour it must be free of foreign matter. This requires several
different cleaning processes. At each step of purification, the wheat is
inspected and purified again if necessary. The first device used to purify
wheat is known as a separator. This machine passes the wheat over a series of
metal screens. The wheat and other small particles pass through the screen
while large objects such as sticks, and rocks are removed. The wheat next
passes through an aspirator. This device works like a vacuum cleaner. The
aspirator sucks up foreign matter which is lighter than the wheat and removes
it. Other foreign objects are removed in several ways. One device, known as a disk
separator, moves the wheat over a series of disks with indentations that
collect objects the size of a grain of wheat. Smaller or larger objects pass
over the disks and are removed.  Other
methods used to purify wheat include magnets to remove small pieces of metal
and scourers to scrape off dirt and hair. In more modern times, electronic
color sorting machines are used to remove material which is not the same color
as wheat. The next step is preparing the wheat for grinding. The moisture
content of the wheat must now be controlled to allow the outer layer of bran to
be removed efficiently during grinding. Usually this involves adding, rather
than removing, moisture as it is much easier to add moisture to overly dried
kernels due to the fact that large amounts of dried wheat will last mush longer
than moist wheat kernels. When grinding the wheat, it moves between two large
metal rollers known as breaker rolls. These rollers are of two varied sizes and
move at different speeds. They also contain spiral grooves which crack open the
grains of wheat and begin to separate the interior of the wheat from the outer
layer of bran. The product of the breaker rolls passes through metal sieves to
separate it.  The material now resembles
a coarse flour and is known as middlings. Middlings are ground into flour by
pairs of large, smooth metal rollers. Each time the flour is ground it passes
through sieves to separate it into flours of different fineness. These sieves
are made of metal wire when the flour is coarse, but are made of nylon or silk
when the flour is fine. By sifting, separating, and regrinding the flour,
several different grades of flour are produced at the same time. At this point
the flour can be altered and changed in order to accommodate whatever needs it must
fulfil. currently, vitamins and minerals are added by law in order to produce
enriched flour and leavening agents and salt can be added in order to make
self-rising flour (Sokolov 1994).


it comes to the marketing and trading of wheat, most all of it is used in bread
making and the making and distribution of bread flour. There are however a
series of other uses as well. For example, wheat bran is a widely sought-after
commodity in terms of breakfast cereals, and wheat germ is used in a variety of
places in food and ca be used as a more beneficial substitute for bread crumbs
in many recipes as well as a topping for yogurt and other foods. With all of
these, the production and distribution of wheat is a very important topic in
terms of global trade. As many nations may lack the available resources,
climate or soil conditions to produce proper bread wheat, it is a common
import. Until recently, the U.S. was the worlds top exporter of wheat since the
late 1800’s, when properly documented data on actual import and export data
began to be recorded (O’Connor 1970). But as of very recently, Russia has
quickly become the worlds top supplier of wheat exports. Currently as of
2017/2018, Russian wheat and barley exports account for one fifth of global
trade. Russia’s ability to export has been assisted by beneficial exchange
rates and low prices, compared to other traditional wheat and barley exporters.
Another key advantage is their close proximity to rapidly growing markets in
the Middle East and North Africa. This is immensely shocking because as early
as the 200’s, Russia was a net grain importer. Even as its wheat production
began to grow, its ability to be an exporter was uncertain. But, as of recent
years production has expanded rapidly with much higher yields. Due to the new
surplus of production, the government is now supplying a much more supportive
system for exports (USDA 2018).

In Religion:

impact wheat had on religion was seen across multiple religions. from classical
times, depictions of bread and wheat-ears were always religious symbols of life
born, reborn, sustained and protected by divine figures such as Osiris,
Demeter, Ceres or Christ. It was also seen in many renaissance paintings of the
virgin Mary from the catholic religion. She was often depicted dressed in a
gown or robes that were decorated with ears of wheat (Bjornstad 2016) (fig 3).
In the catholic religion especially, bread is a major symbol used over and over
again. Even the term “breaking bread” was originated from the bible signifying
sharing of bread with those around you, but the term has stuck around and now
simply means to share what you have or share time with those close to you. It
was also important in the catholic religion in terms of the symbolic
consumption of the Eucharist, which is small pieces of bread meant to symbolize
the body of Christ that is shared to all as a way of allowing Christ into the
body (Kramer-Rolls 2007). Besides Christianity and Catholicism, bread and wheat
have always played a role in different religions. Due to the fact that many
religions were simply a way for early humans to help explain their world around
them, it was believed that deities controlled events around them such as
weather, wildlife and even the crop growing season. Thus, many deities were
worshiped as gods of harvest as to ensure a good growing season.

Harmful Effects/ Issues:

wheat is an immensely beneficial crop that offers many vitamins and nutrients,
there is a severe medical issue that arise. This is known as Celiac Disease and
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity. These disorders are essentially immune related
reactions to wheat and in some cases specifically gluten. Once believed to be
relatively rare, particularly in the US, it is now thought that gluten-related
disorders affect nearly 10% of the population. Each gluten-related disorder
exhibits a unique response to gluten ingestion. Some of the symptoms of celiac
disease include pain in abdomen or joints, burning in chest, indigestion,
diarrhea, fat in stool, nausea/vomiting, bone loss, fatigue and development of
lactose intolerance. These symptoms range from minor inconveniences to sever
issues that can affect overall health and well-being. But non-celiac gluten
sensitivity symptoms can be very different. Many of the symptoms are similar to
celiac disease such as abdominal pain, bone and joint pain and diarrhea. But
NCGS is different in the fact that it can also produce symptoms like
depression, ADHD like behavior and “foggy mind” and when tested medically the
patient will test negative for celiac disease. For these reasons both celiac
disease and NCGS have become increasingly difficult to diagnose early on and
often can be mistaken for other issues. When this occurs, the patient will not
know that it is simply their diet that is causing these issues. One of the
easiest ways to diagnose a wheat allergy related disease is to simply stop
eating wheat products and see if the symptoms subside. These diseases are often
genetic and passed down from parents. Sadly, not many treatments are available
except for having a strict gluten free diet in order to ensure there are no
issues. It is undeniable that gluten-related disorders are increasing in the
US. Despite the improvement in diagnostic testing techniques for celiac wheat
related diseases it is still difficult to distinguish gluten-related disorders.
There are also an increased group of patients that complaints related to gluten
ingestion that test negative for any wheat related allergies (Leonard 2014).
This group, along with a considerable number of people who feel gluten free is
healthier are contributing to the increased demand for the gluten free food
market. This can be seen in many new gluten free restaurants and restaurants
serving many gluten free options or having a separate gluten free menu.






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