A cereal (or cereal grain) is any grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain (botanically, a type of fruit called a caryopsis), composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran. The term may also refer to the resulting grain itself. Cereal grain crops are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other type of crop and are therefore staple crops. Edible grains from other plant families, such as buckwheat (Polygonaceae), quinoa (Amaranthaceae) and chia (Lamiaceae), are referred to as pseudocereals.
In their natural, unprocessed, whole grain form, cereals are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, oils, and protein. When processed by the removal of the bran, and germ, the remaining endosperm is mostly carbohydrate. In some developing countries, grain in the form of rice, wheat, millet, or maize constitutes a majority of daily sustenance. In developed countries, cereal consumption is moderate and varied but still substantial.
Agriculture allowed for the support of an increased population, leading to larger societies and eventually the development of cities. It also created the need for greater organization of political power (and the creation of social stratification), as decisions had to be made regarding labor and harvest allocation and access rights to water and land. Agriculture bred immobility, as populations settled down for long periods of time, which led to the accumulation of material goods.
Early Neolithic villages show evidence of the development of processing grain. The Levant is the ancient home of the ancestors of wheat, barley and peas, in which many of these villages were based. There is evidence of the cultivation of figs in the Jordan Valley as long as 11,300 years ago, and cereal (grain) production in Syria approximately 9,000 years ago. During the same period, farmers in China began to farm rice and millet, using man-made floods and fires as part of their cultivation regimen. Fiber crops were domesticated as early as food crops, with China domesticating hemp, cotton being developed independently in Africa and South America, and Western Asia domesticating flax. The use of soil amendments, including manure, fish, compost and ashes, appears to have begun early, and developed independently in several areas of the world, including Mesopotamia, the Nile Valley and Eastern Asia.
The first cereal grains were domesticated by early primitive humans. About 8,000 years ago, they were domesticated by ancient farming communities in the Fertile Crescent region. Emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, and barley were three of the so-called Neolithic founder crops in the development of agriculture. Around the same time, millets and rices were starting to become domesticated in East Asia. Sorghum and millets were also being domesticated in sub-Saharan West Africa.
During the second half of the 20th century there was a significant increase in the production of high-yield cereal crops worldwide, especially wheat and rice, due to an initiative known as the Green Revolution. The strategies developed by the Green Revolution focused on fending off starvation and were very successful in raising overall yields of cereal grains, but did not give sufficient relevance to nutritional quality. These modern high yield-cereal crops have low quality proteins, with essential amino acid deficiencies, are high in carbohydrates, and lack balanced essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and other quality factors.
While each individual species has its own peculiarities, the cultivation of all cereal crops is similar. Most are annual plants; consequently one planting yields one harvest. Wheat, rye, triticale, oats, barley, and spelt are the "cool-season" cereals. These are hardy plants that grow well in moderate weather and cease to grow in hot weather (approximately 30 °C [86 °F], but this varies by species and variety). The "warm-season" cereals are tender and prefer hot weather. Barley and rye are the hardiest cereals, able to overwinter in the subarctic and Siberia. Many cool-season cereals are grown in the tropics. However, some are only grown in cooler highlands, where it may be possible to grow multiple crops per year.
For the past few decades, there has also been increasing interest in perennial grain plants. This interest developed due to advantages in erosion control, reduced need for fertiliser, and potential lowered costs to the farmer. Though research is still in early stages, The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas has been able to create a few cultivars that produce a fairly good crop yield.
The warm-season cereals are grown in tropical lowlands year-round and in temperate climates during the frost-free season. Rice is commonly grown in flooded fields, though some strains are grown on dry land. Other warm climate cereals, such as sorghum, are adapted to arid conditions.
Cool-season cereals are well-adapted to temperate climates. Most varieties of a particular species are either winter or spring types. Winter varieties are sown in the autumn, germinate and grow vegetatively, then become dormant during winter. They resume growing in the springtime and mature in late spring or early summer. This cultivation system makes optimal use of water and frees the land for another crop early in the growing season.
Winter varieties do not flower until springtime because they require vernalization: exposure to low temperatures for a genetically determined length of time. Where winters are too warm for vernalization or exceed the hardiness of the crop (which varies by species and variety), farmers grow spring varieties. Spring cereals are planted in early springtime and mature later that same summer, without vernalization. Spring cereals typically require more irrigation and yield less than winter cereals.
Once the cereal plants have grown their seeds, they have completed their life cycle. The plants die, become brown, and dry. As soon as the parent plants and their seed kernels are reasonably dry, harvest can begin.
In developed countries, cereal crops are universally machine-harvested, typically using a combine harvester, which cuts, threshes, and winnows the grain during a single pass across the field. In developing countries, a variety of harvesting methods are in use, depending on the cost of labor, from combines to hand tools such as the scythe or grain cradle.
If a crop is harvested during humid weather, the grain may not dry adequately in the field to prevent spoilage during its storage. In this case, the grain is sent to a dehydrating facility, where artificial heat dries it.
In North America, farmers commonly deliver their newly harvested grain to a grain elevator, a large storage facility that consolidates the crops of many farmers. The farmer may sell the grain at the time of delivery or maintain ownership of a share of grain in the pool for later sale. Storage facilities should be protected from small grain pests, rodents and birds.
(millions of metric tons)
|Maize (corn)||205||851||888||872||1016||A staple food of people in the Americas, Africa, and of livestock worldwide; often called corn in North America, Australia, and New Zealand. A large portion of maize crops are grown for purposes other than human consumption.|
|Rice||285||703||725||720||745||The primary cereal of tropical and some temperate regions. Staple food in most of Brazil (both maize and manioc/cassava were once more important and their presence is still stronger in some areas), other parts of Latin America and some other Portuguese-descended cultures, parts of Africa (even more before the Columbian exchange), most of South Asia and the Far East. Largely overridden by breadfruit (a dicot tree) during the South Pacific's part of the Austronesian expansion.|
|Wheat||222||650||699||671||713||The primary cereal of temperate regions. It has a worldwide consumption but it is a staple food of North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, most of the Southern Cone and much of the Greater Middle East. Wheat gluten-based meat substitutes are important in the Far East (albeit less than tofu) and said to resemble meat texture more than others.|
|Barley||72||124||133||133||144||Grown for malting and livestock on land too poor or too cold for wheat.|
|Sorghum||41||60||58||57||61||Important staple food in Asia and Africa and popular worldwide for livestock.|
|Millet||26||33||27||30||30||A group of similar but distinct cereals that form an important staple food in Asia and Africa.|
|Oats||50||20||22||21||23||Popular worldwide as a breakfast food and livestock feed. In human consumption, oats can be served as porridge as oatmeal, although oats could be eaten in various different forms other than rolled oats, including unprocessed oats.|
|Rye||12||12||13||15||16||Important in cold climates.|
|Triticale||35||14||13||14||14.5||Hybrid of wheat and rye, grown similarly to rye.|
|Fonio||0.18||0.57||0.59||0.59||0.6||Several varieties are grown as food crops in Africa.|
Maize, wheat, and rice together accounted for 89% of all cereal production worldwide in 2012, and 43% of all food calories in 2009, while the production of oats and triticale have drastically fallen from their 1960s levels.
Other cereals worthy of notice, but not included in FAO statistics, include:
Several other species of wheat have also been domesticated, some very early in the history of agriculture:
In 2013 global cereal production reached a record 2,521 million tonnes. A slight dip to 2,498 million tonnes was forecasted for 2014 by the FAO in July 2014.
Some grains are deficient in the essential amino acid, lysine. That is why many vegetarian cultures, in order to get a balanced diet, combine their diet of grains with legumes. Many legumes, however, are deficient in the essential amino acid methionine, which grains contain. Thus, a combination of legumes with grains forms a well-balanced diet for vegetarians. Common examples of such combinations are dal (lentils) with rice by South Indians and Bengalis, dal with wheat in Pakistan and North India, beans with corn tortillas, tofu with rice, and peanut butter with wheat bread (as sandwiches) in several other cultures, including the Americas. The amount of crude protein measured in grains is expressed as grain crude protein concentration.
Cereals contain exogenous opioid peptides called exorphins and include opioid food peptides like Gluten exorphin and opioid food peptides. They mimic the actions of endorphines because they bind to the same opioid receptors in the brain.
The green revolution was a technology package comprising material components of improved high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of two staple cereals (rice and wheat), irrigation or controlled water supply and improved moisture utilization, fertilizers and pesticides and associated management skills.
Breakfast cereal (or simply cereal) is a traditional breakfast food made from processed cereal grains, primarily in Western societies. Warm cereals like porridge and grits have the longest history. Ready-to-eat cold cereals, appearing around the late 19th century, are most often mixed with milk (traditionally cow's milk), but can also be eaten with yogurt instead or even plain. Fruit or sometimes nuts are added. Many breakfast cereals are produced via extrusion. Some companies promote their products for the health benefits that come from eating oat-based and high-fiber cereals. In the United States, cereals are often fortified with vitamins but can still lack many of the vitamins needed for a healthy breakfast. A significant proportion of cereals are made with high sugar content. Many are marketed towards children, feature a cartoon mascot, and may contain a toy or prize.
Between 1970 and 1998, the number of different types of breakfast cereals in the U.S. more than doubled, from 160 to 340; the forecasted trend for 2012 was 4,945 different types based on the mass customization of online shopping. In this highly competitive market, breakfast cereal companies have developed an ever-increasing number of flavors (some are flavored like dessert or candy). Although many plain wheat- and oat-based cereals exist, other flavors are highly sweetened, while some brands include freeze-dried fruit as a sweet element. The breakfast cereal industry has gross profit margins of 40–45%, 90% penetration in some markets, and steady and continued growth throughout its history.Cap'n Crunch
Cap'n Crunch is a product line of corn and oat breakfast cereals introduced in 1963 and manufactured by Quaker Oats Company, a division of PepsiCo since 2001.
Cap'n Crunch was developed to recall a recipe of brown sugar and butter over rice, requiring innovation of a special baking process—as the cereal was one of the first to use an oil coating for flavor delivery.Cheerios
Cheerios is an American brand of cereal manufactured by General Mills, consisting of pulverized oats in the shape of a solid torus. In some countries, including the United Kingdom, Cheerios is marketed by Cereal Partners under the Nestlé brand; in Australia and New Zealand, Cheerios is sold as an Uncle Toby's product. It was first manufactured in 1941 and was originally called CheeriOats.Corn flakes
Corn flakes, or cornflakes, are a breakfast cereal made by toasting flakes of corn (maize). The cereal was created by John Harvey Kellogg in 1894 as a food that he thought would be healthy for the patients of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan where he was superintendent. The breakfast cereal proved popular among the patients and the Kellogg Company (Kellogg's) was set up by Dr. John's brother, Will Kellogg, to produce corn flakes for the wider public. A patent for the process was granted in 1896.
With corn flakes becoming popular in the wider community, a previous patient at the sanitarium, C. W. Post, started to make rival products. Kellogg continued to experiment and various ingredients were added and different grains were used. In 1928, he started to manufacture Rice Krispies, another successful breakfast cereal.
There are many generic brands of corn flakes produced by various manufacturers. As well as being used as a breakfast cereal, the crushed flakes can be a substitute for bread crumbs in recipes and can be incorporated into many cooked dishes.Froot Loops
Froot Loops is a brand of sweetened, fruit-flavored breakfast cereal produced by Kellogg's and sold in many countries. The cereal pieces are ring-shaped (hence "loops") and come in a variety of bright colors and a blend of fruit flavors (hence "froot", a cacography of fruit). However, there is no actual fruit in Froot Loops and they are all the same flavor. Kellogg's introduced Froot Loops in 1963. Originally, there were only red, orange and yellow loops, but green, blue and purple were added during the 1990s. Different methods of production are used in the UK where, due to the lack of natural colourings for yellow, red and blue, Froot Loops are purple, green and orange, and the loops are also larger in size. Although the marketing side of Kellogg's sold the idea that each individual loop color was a different flavor, Kellogg's has acknowledged that all share the same fruit-blend flavor.General Mills
General Mills, Inc., is an American multinational manufacturer and marketer of branded consumer foods sold through retail stores. It is headquartered in Golden Valley, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. The company markets many well-known North American brands, including Gold Medal flour, Annie's Homegrown, Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Colombo, Totino's, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Häagen-Dazs, Cheerios, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, and Lucky Charms. Its brand portfolio includes more than 89 other leading U.S. brands and numerous category leaders around the world.Grain
A grain is a small, hard, dry seed, with or without an attached hull or fruit layer, harvested for human or animal consumption. A grain crop is a grain-producing plant. The two main types of commercial grain crops are cereals and legumes.
After being harvested, dry grains are more durable than other staple foods, such as starchy fruits (plantains, breadfruit, etc.) and tubers (sweet potatoes, cassava, and more). This durability has made grains well suited to industrial agriculture, since they can be mechanically harvested, transported by rail or ship, stored for long periods in silos, and milled for flour or pressed for oil. Thus, major global commodity markets exist for maize, rice, soybeans, wheat and other grains but not for tubers, vegetables, or other crops.Granola
Granola is a breakfast food and snack food consisting of rolled oats, nuts, honey or other sweeteners such as brown sugar, and sometimes puffed rice, that is usually baked until it is crisp, toasted and golden brown. During the baking process, the mixture is stirred to maintain a loose breakfast cereal consistency. Dried fruit, such as raisins and dates, and confections such as chocolate are sometimes added. Granola, particularly if it includes flax seeds, is often used to improve digestion. Granola is often eaten in combination with yogurt, honey, fresh fruit (such as bananas, strawberries or blueberries), milk or other forms of cereal. It also serves as a topping for various pastries, desserts or ice cream.
Granola is carried by people who are hiking, camping, or backpacking because it is nutritious, lightweight, high in calories, and easy to store (properties that make it similar to trail mix and muesli). As a snack, it is often combined with honey or corn syrup and condensed into a bar form that makes it easy to carry for packed lunches, hiking, or other outdoor activities.Kellogg's
The Kellogg Company, doing business as Kellogg's, is an American multinational food-manufacturing company headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan, United States. Kellogg's produces cereal and convenience foods, including cookies, crackers, and toaster pastries and markets their products by several well known brands including Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Keebler, Pringles, Eggo, and Cheez-It. Kellogg's mission statement is "Nourishing families so they can flourish and thrive."Kellogg's products are manufactured and marketed in over 180 countries. Kellogg's largest factory is at Trafford Park in Trafford, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom, which is also the location of its European headquarters. Other corporate office locations outside of Battle Creek include Chicago, Dublin, Shanghai, and Querétaro City. Kellogg's holds a Royal Warrant from Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales.List of breakfast cereals
This is a list of breakfast cereals. Many cereals are trademarked brands of large companies, such as Kellogg's, General Mills, Malt-O-Meal, Nestlé, Quaker Oats and Post Foods, but similar equivalent products are often sold by other manufacturers and as store brands.Lucky Charms
Lucky Charms is a brand of cereal produced by the General Mills food company since 1964. The cereal consists of toasted oat pieces and multi-colored marshmallow shapes ("marbits"
or marshmallow bits). The label features a leprechaun mascot, Lucky, animated in commercials.Milo (drink)
Milo (stylised as MILO) is a chocolate and malt powder typically mixed with hot water and milk to produce a beverage popular in Oceania, South America, Southeast Asia and parts of Africa. Produced by Nestlé, Milo was originally developed by Australian inventor Thomas Mayne in 1934.Most commonly sold as a powder in a green tin, often depicting various sporting activities, Milo is available as a premixed beverage in some countries, and has been subsequently developed into a snack bar and breakfast cereal. Its composition and taste differ in some countries.
Milo maintains significant popularity in a diverse range of territories, including Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines, Indonesia, Chile, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Peru and Central and West Africa.Muri (food)
Muri, also known as mudhi or murai (Bengali: মুড়ি; Odia: ମୁଢ଼ି muṛ[h]i), is a type of puffed grain from the Indian subcontinent, made from rice, commonly used in breakfast cereal or snack foods, and served as a popular street food in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. It is usually made by heating rice kernels under high pressure in the presence of steam, though the method of manufacture varies widely. In the Indian subcontinent, it is known as mamra, porri or arsi porri.
Similarly, paddy is also puffed and popularly known as aralu or nel porri. It is used to make sandige.Porridge
Porridge (historically also spelled porage, porrige, or parritch) is a food commonly eaten as a breakfast cereal dish, made by boiling ground, crushed or chopped starchy plants—typically grain—in water or milk. It is often cooked or served with added flavorings such as sugar, honey, (dried) fruit or syrup to make a sweet cereal, or it can be mixed with spices and/or vegetables to make a savoury dish. It is usually served hot in a bowl, depending on its consistency. Oat porridge, or oatmeal, is one of the most common types of porridge. Gruel is a thinner version of porridge.Quaker Oats Company
The Quaker Oats Company, known as Quaker, is an American food conglomerate based in Chicago. It has been owned by PepsiCo since 2001.Rice Krispies
Rice Krispies (also known as Rice Bubbles in Australia and New Zealand) is a breakfast cereal marketed by Kellogg's in 1927 and released to the public in 1928. Rice Krispies are made of crisped rice (rice and sugar paste that is formed into rice shapes or "berries", cooked, dried and toasted), and expand forming very thin and hollowed out walls that are crunchy and crisp. When milk is added to the cereal the walls tend to collapse, creating the "Snap, crackle and pop" sounds.Rice Krispies cereal has a long advertising history, with the elf cartoon characters Snap, Crackle and Pop touting the brand. In 1963, The Rolling Stones recorded a short song for a Rice Krispies television advertisement.Rice Krispies Treats
Rice Krispies Treats (also called Rice Krispie Treats, Rice Krispies squares, RKTs, bars, buns, cakes, or Marshmallow Squares) are a confection commonly made through binding Kellogg's Rice Krispies or another crisp rice cereal together using a combination of butter or margarine and melted marshmallows or marshmallow creme. While traditionally home-made, Kellogg's began to market the treats themselves in 1995.Rye
Rye (Secale cereale) is a grass grown extensively as a grain, a cover crop and a forage crop. It is a member of the wheat tribe (Triticeae) and is closely related to barley (genus Hordeum) and wheat (Triticum). Rye grain is used for flour, bread, beer, crisp bread, some whiskeys, some vodkas, and animal fodder. It can also be eaten whole, either as boiled rye berries or by being rolled, similar to rolled oats.
Rye is a cereal grain and should not be confused with ryegrass, which is used for lawns, pasture, and hay for livestock.Trix (cereal)
Trix is a brand of breakfast cereal made by General Mills in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the North American market and by Cereal Partners (using the Nestlé brand) elsewhere in the world. The cereal consists of fruit-flavored, sweetened, ground-corn pieces.
The Trix trademark is also used by Yoplait for a line of yogurt marketed toward children.
Cereals and pseudocereals
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