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Wheat. Bridge McKye. Origins. Fertile Crescent Iraq, Syria, Israel, Jordan and Egypt Originally gathered as a wild grass Stone Age: Rocks used to grind wheat berries into flour 5,000 year old loaves of bread from Egypt. Agriculture. Cultivation of wheat began in 7,800 BC

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Bridge McKye



  • Fertile Crescent

    • Iraq, Syria, Israel, Jordan and Egypt

  • Originally gathered as a wild grass

  • Stone Age: Rocks used to grind wheat berries into flour

  • 5,000 year old loaves of bread from Egypt



  • Cultivation of wheat began in 7,800 BC

  • People began to domesticate wild wheat and cross different varieties

  • Wheat begins to spread

    • Southeastern Europe by 6,000 BC

    • Europe, Central Asia, India, and Africa by 3,000 BC

    • Americas in 1492 with Columbus

History and technology

History and Technology

  • First millstones in 5,500 BC

  • Bread ovens by 3,300 BC

  • Yeast in bread

  • Animal power for milling used by the Romans in 200 BC

  • Sieves to filter flour- for pure bread

  • Water mills appeared 2,000 years ago

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle Changes

  • Domesticated wheat led to a sedentary lifestyle

  • Cities

  • Art, religion, science, education, literature

  • Societies began to evolve around wheat

  • Higher populations need higher wheat yields, leads to pushes for technology

Industrial revolution

Industrial Revolution

  • Crop rotations become more common

    • Wheat, beans, root crops, fallow

  • Technology and warm weather produce more reliable yields

  • First machine applied to wheat production

    • Automated seed drill

19 th century

19th Century

  • Transition from round loaves to rectangular loaves

  • Separating components of flour

    • Whole wheat flour-more nutritious

    • White flour-doesn’t spoil as easily



  • After WWII

  • Agro-chemicals

  • Crop Breeding

  • Mechanization

    • Tractors for planting, fertilizing, applying pesticides

    • Threshers

    • Transported by train

    • Stored in grain elevators

  • Increase in global trade

Green revolution

Green Revolution

  • Promoted high yielding, industrialized wheat in developing nations

  • U.S. appeared to be acting on humanitarian concerns, but was really acting out of self-interest

  • Focus on breeding certain qualities into wheat

    • High yields

    • High quality

    • Drought and disease resistance

    • Weather resistant

Green revolution1

Green Revolution

  • Wheat production was boosted in India, China, and Mexico as well as more developed countries such as Britain and even the U.S.

  • Along with increased wheat yields came many environmental problems

  • Increased wheat production led to

    wheat being dumped on foreign markets

Wheat production today

Wheat Production Today

  • 3rd in world production

    • 2000: 21 billion bushels on 520 million acres

  • Provides 16% of calories in developing areas

  • 36% from Asia, 17% from Europe, 16% from North America

  • China is first in world wheat production followed by India and the U.S.

  • Subsidized in many countries

Wheat production today1

Wheat Production Today

  • Wheat production is perennial and it is being harvested somewhere every month

  • Can be grown in harsh, wind swept environment that are too cold for rice or corn

  • 90% of wheat in industrialized nations is rain fed

  • About half is irrigated in developing nations

    • High amount of fertilizer used in these areas

  • 90% of wheat grown worldwide is bread wheat

Crop disease

Crop Disease

  • Scab

    • Attacks the head of the grain

    • Produces shriveled, bleached grains

    • Can cause health problems in humans and animals

  • Rust

    • Responsible for the biggest wheat pandemic in the U.S.

    • Produces red pustules on the plant

Environmental concerns

Environmental Concerns

  • Water pollution and overuse

    • Chemical runoff and irrigation

  • Soil degradation

    • Erosion

    • Fertility Loss

  • Deforestation

  • Habitat Loss

  • Loss of biodiversity

  • Fossil fuel dependence

Health concerns

Health Concerns

  • Celiac Disease

    • Autoimmune disorder that attacks the villi of the small intestine

    • Nutrients not absorbed

    • Triggered by gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley

    • 300 Symptoms

      • Anemia, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue

    • Can appear at any age

    • No cure, must eat a gluten free diet

Wheat and diet

Wheat and Diet

  • Whole wheat perceived as healthy in the U.S.

  • Atkins diet suggests eating as few carbohydrates and wheat products as possible

  • Wheat is an ingredient in hundreds of foods

    • Bread, crackers, cakes and cookies, pasta, tortillas, breakfast cereals

  • Wheat has more protein than corn or rice

Wheat and culture

Wheat and Culture

  • Important to the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Chinese

    • Often associated with life forces and fertility

  • Today Germany has the greatest variety of breads in the world

  • Different countries are known for different breads

Wheat and culture1

Wheat and Culture

  • Wheat and Christianity

    • Key part of The Eucharist

    • “Give us this day our daily bread”

  • Many references to bread in daily language

    • Bread basket

    • Bread winner

    • Bread=money

    • Companion: Latin for “with bread”

Gender roles

Gender Roles

  • Men

    • Apply chemicals, manure, fertilizer

    • Spade work

    • Sow the seeds

    • Uproot the seedlings

    • Market the grain

Gender roles1

Gender Roles

  • Women

    • Transplanting

    • Storage

    • Weeding

    • Threshing

    • Grinding the grain and cooking

Genetic modification

Genetic Modification

  • Many markets are opposed to G.M wheat

  • Cross contamination

  • Monocrops

  • Transnational corporations

  • Health concerns

  • Expensive, little benefit for farmers

  • Increased pest resistence

Sustainable wheat

Sustainable Wheat?

  • Protecting the soil, water, biodiversity, community

  • Need more community based, supported production

  • Organic is a step in the right direction

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