Grains are harvested from grasses, including wheat, corn, oat, rice and barley. The main crops are cereal and legumes grown worldwide to feed animals and humans alike.
Do we need them? Are they important for our global society? The answer is a definite yes. Grains play an important part in our lives, from sustenance to spirits and beyond.
Farmers worldwide work hard to produce this crucial crop. It takes a lot of effort and maintenance to grow grains on farms. Grains need to be stored in optimal conditions, which includes the right climate, moisture, and temperature. Farmers often use technologies like wireless grain bin monitoring to help with quality control.
Although it takes a lot of effort to grow grains, they provide a significant contribution to the world. Next time you see a grain farmer, thank them for their effort in making these important grains. Let’s learn six reasons why grains are important to the world:
Grains feed the world
Grains were first consumed by people over 75,000 years ago in western Asia and were harvested from nearby riverbanks in their local area. Ancient people processed grain into flour to make bread while the rice was steamed and oats made oatmeal. Beer was also made with barley, one of the oldest beverages manufactured.
Today, over half the harvested grain globally is for human consumption. Rice is the most popular grain, with 40,000 types, and is grown on every continent except Antarctica. Wheat and maize follow next. Around 50% of the caloric intake worldwide comes from cereal grains.
Grains provide nutrients
There must be a reason why most of the world eats grains every day. That reason is it is a healthy source of food. Here are some of the nutrients in grains.
- Fibre: We need dietary fibre for better gut health and reducing heart disease and diabetes. Fibre also fills you up, and that helps with weight management.
- Protein: Grains are a sustainable source of plant protein, and while they lack amino acids and can’t be considered a complete protein, they contribute to protein intake.
- Minerals & Vitamins: There are many essential minerals in whole grains that your body needs. These include iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, copper, selenium and manganese. Also, they have several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate) when left as a whole grain. Because they are stripped of the bran and germ, processed grains are usually enriched with these minerals and vitamins.
Grains feed our animals
Animal feed accounts for around 35% of the world’s grain crop, with ruminant animals like cattle, sheep, and goats, as well as pigs and chickens, turning that food resource into nutrient-dense protein for human consumption.
Corn, soybean, oat and barley are fed to animals, and they thrive on it when it is part of their overall diet. They also eat fodder crops, crop residue, leaves and grass from grazing. The truth is that while grains are fed to animals, most of them are non-human edible material that is agricultural byproducts.
Grains make fuel
Biofuel is made from plant and animal matter, and ethanol comes from grains. Liquid alcohol is produced through fermentation of the starches and sugars in grain, mostly wheat and corn in Canada. It is a renewable source of energy and one that originates from grasses and plants. Grain cows eat processed through their bodies, and their waste can also be turned into biofuel.
Grains are used to make cosmetics
The skincare market is worth 100 billion dollars, and it is growing rapidly as the consumer base gets younger. Several different grains are added to cosmetics for their protective and antioxidant properties, and they provide a great source of vitamins and minerals. They promote collagen and skin repair, neutralize free radicals, and transfer nutrients across the cell membrane.
Barley, corn, oats, rice, quinoa, wheat and rye are widely used in serums, moisturizers, masks and creams.
Grains make alcohol
While alcohol is not an essential food source, it is highly consumed by the population for enjoyment, ritual use and social enhancement. Grains are fermented and distilled to make several types of alcohol consumed worldwide.
- Whisky: Whiskey is made from malted barley, but other grains may be added to change the taste. Wheat, rye, corn and oats are added to the barley malt.
- You may think of vodka coming from potatoes, but it is also made from fermented cereal grains like corn, rice, rye, and even wheat.
- Bourbon: This whiskey is a mixture of rye and malted barley with a high percentage of mashed corn aged in a barrel.
- Gin: This spirit is from fermented, then distilled grains including wheat, barley or rye as a base with herbs and spices for flavouring.
- Beer: We all know the beer is made from fermented barley, but other grains like rye, rice, oats, corn, and even wheat.
- Sake: This traditional Japanese drink is made from rice and is not a wine but a brewed beer.