Wheat: Food for Life
By: Megan Meyers, NAWG’s Spring 2019 Intern
Today, marks the 46th anniversary of National Ag Day! This year’s theme “Agriculture: Food for Life” explores ways in which we can better recognize producers, agriculture associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others throughout the industry.
National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America, a non-profit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community, dedicating its efforts to increasing the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society.
In recognition of this year’s theme, we would like to highlight how wheat is truly food for life! Originating in the “cradle of civilization,” Egyptians were the first people to build ovens and bake loaves of bread. Shortly after, the cultivation of wheat spread northward, westward, and eastward over the next few thousand years, reaching the British Isles by 3,000 BC.
Wheat was introduced by the first English colonists in 1777 and was first planted as a hobby crop rather than a crop for consumption. However, colonists transitioned towards growing wheat for food and it quickly became the main cash crop of farmers who sold it to urban populations and exporters.
Today, wheat is the third most common crop planted in the United States, grown in 42 states on more than 160,000 farms. The United States is the fourth leading producer of wheat, exporting 50% of what it grows.
Wheat is a biblical grain used in literature, art, and even music. It provides endless possibilities as a food crop and can even be used as a non-food crop through such means as biofuel.
Based on a 2,000-calorie level, USDA recommends adults to consume 6 ounce-equivalents of grain per day – at least half of this amount should be whole grains. Wheat has proven to be essential food for a healthy lifestyle and can even prevent some major ailments as heart disease.
To sum up, the wheat crop has been around for centuries and will be around for centuries to come. It’s truly food for life on a nutritious level as well as a historical.