Importance

The most important of all our vegetable foods are without doubt cereals. Not only do they contain a large amount of nutriment, chiefly, but by no means wholly, in the form of carbohydrates, but their areas of growth are widely distributed, and their power of adaptation to different climates and conditions is usually great. This alone would render them exceedingly important as food for the human race. Of them all wheat is undoubtedly the most important from its wide distribution and its power of adaptation to different conditions. Rice follows closely in importance, while corn, oats, rye, barley and millet each have an important place in the food of the world. The home of the cereals seems for the most part to have been Central Asia, nearly all, except rice and corn, originating there. Corn is supposed to have originated in Mexico. From these centers their production has spread through all parts of the world.

Probable Native Home Of The Grains.

Probable Native Home Of The Grains.

(From Corn Plants By Fredric LeRoy Sargent).

Composition

A comparison of the composition of some of the different cereals in forms commonly used is given in the following table:

Composition Of Cereals

Per Cent of

Water.

Per Cent of Proteid.

Per Cent of Carbohydrate.

Per Cent of

Fat.

Wheat flour (entire)...........

11.4

13.8

71.9

1.9

Cornineal.............

12.5

9.2

75.4

1.9

Oatmeal............

7.3

16.1

67.5

7.2

Rey flour...

12.9

6.8

78.7

.9

Barley meal and flour...

11.9

10.5

72.8

2 2

Barley (pearled)...

11.5

8 5

77.8

1.1

Rice.

12.3

8.

79.

.3

Wheat

Wheat derives its special importance from the fact that it will grow in so many different climates and under so many varying conditions. It may be sown either in the fall or in the spring, and receives its name of winter or spring wheat, according to the time of the planting. Many varieties are found, such as red wheat and white wheat, hard and soft wheat.