he one who owns petrol owns the commonwealth; the one who owns food owns the nation.” This quote is claimed to have been phrased by Henry A. Kissinger in 1974, the United States Foreign Minister at the time.
Confirming his saying, wheat has always played an important role in forming human history as it is the very first of our food resources. In this article, it will be mentioned how wheat had an ability to create a civiliza- tion and accordingly the archeological proofs that support this claim.
Wheat and humanity
Wheat has always been essential to humanity being one of the first domesticated crops. It differs from other crops with it being satisfying in calorie and the raw material of bread. It also gets on well with humans, furthermore, it would not be wrong to say that it rules the world. Wheat is cultivated in an area of about six million square meters in the world; more than half of Europe or all Australia. For instance, imagine an area fivefold of the USA and two-fold of India. This is the area on which wheat has a big impact. Moreover, it has the biggest ecological tolerance as a plant in the world, other than human beings. What I want to say is that ecological tolerance is the ability to adapt oneself to different geographies and climates. In other words, the ‘human-wheat’ relation-ship has always been involved in colonization throughout history. This couple – human-and-wheat - prob-ably started colonization 14,000 years ago. We can also say that when humans first came across wheat, it stole his heart and became the ruler of the whole world. Humans put wheat under his control, plant-ing it in different lands and thus wheat con-vinced him to live together. This relationship means settlement and settlements means the beginning of a civilization.
Nutrition a basic human instinct
Nutrition has been one of the basic instincts for humans for about 3.5 million years. It was also a basic instinct before human began to be a human. Likewise, all living beings have the same instincts: a need for nutrition, surviving and reproducing. It was 3.5 million years ago when human started to exist as a human beings and first initiated toolmaking in order to be able to use these tools to get food. 3,485,000 years of this time was all about hunting and collect-ing. For about 3,485,000 years, humans only maintained their existence by means of hunt-ing and collecting from nature not attempting to make any agricultural production at all. After that, about two million years ago, humans left Africa and spread into other parts of the world. During their journey, they invented agriculture. This was probably the most important invention after toolmaking and being able to keep fire under control. Then, humans noticed something while observing nature: It was that the same plant was born again after the seeds fell to earth. However, as I mentioned before, 3,485,000 ”
“Wheat brings new habits”
– Charles Darwin
by Dr Ahmet Uhri, Archeologist, The Department of Archeology, Dokuz Eylül University, Turkey
Dr Uhri gave a presentation on the 10th Anniversary of the Turkish Flour Industrialists Federation Congress and Exhibition in Antalya in late March 2014 on the history of wheat and its value in human nutrition.
10 | March - April 2014GRAIN
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