Amazing articles on just about every subject...

Food - Other Grains

( Originally Published 1917 )

A prehistoric food. The history of grain is as old as the history of man. Even our corn, although still unknown to most Europeans, has an origin reaching back into prehistoric times. Columbus found it widely cultivated by the Indians, but its use dates far back of 1492. There are evidences of its cultivation by the Mound Builders and it has been found stored among the ruins of the Cliff Dwellers. No one knows when and how corn was obtained by the Indians. But it is from them that corn derived its name.

Corn is the biblical term for all grains and the word is still used in this sense in England. When an Englishman wishes to speak of our corn he says "maize" or "Indian corn."

Varied uses of corn as a table food. Corn deserves a prominent place among table cereals. Green corn, usually eaten on the cob, and canned corn are the forms best known to those who live in the city. These are commonly " sweet corn." But the large, hard yellow or white ears of "field corn," which rejoice the hearts of many thousands of farmers throughout our country, are not by any means all destined to be used as feed for stock. Of the 3,000,000,000 bushels of corn raised in this country in a year many thousands of bushels are made into corn meal and hominy.. These are staple foods in America, served daily on our tables as mush, "hasty pudding," muffins, johnny cake, and corn bread.

A few years ago the United States each year sold a limited amount of corn in Europe. In years when the price was low at home and corn could be sold in competition with the cheaper stock foods of the world, the quantity sold in Europe was somewhat important.

The value of corn as food for man has been little appreciated, even in our own country It contains all the elements necessary for the sustenance of the body, furnishing heat, energy, and maintenance of life to an extent equal to that of any other cereal. It also has the advantage of a high rate of yield and a comparatively low cost of production.

There are many countries in the world where the food value of corn is unknown, and where the grain is considered suitable only for stock feed. European nations, however, are rapidly becoming acquainted with the true value of this substantial food.

At the Paris Exposition of 1900 the United States commission maintained for six months what was known as the American Corn Kitchen. This was done at the suggestion of a few men familiar with the food value of corn. In this kitchen were cooked and served many samples of food of which corn formed the basis. Thousands upon thousands visited the corn kitchen and in this way many Europeans were taught the value of corn as a table food.

The same exposition contained an exhibit which demonstrated the fact that in corn America possesses a product with as wide a range of usefulness to the human race as that claimed for the bamboo. This exhibit contained sixty distinct articles of commerce, all true products of Indian corn. It included among other things meals, flours, starches, sugars, oils; rubber substitutes, and cellulose. .

Originally it was thought that field corn could not be successfully grown in the extreme northern states. But now it is raised as far north as Minnesota and the Dakotas, and both sweet and field corn may be found growing in many parts of Canada.

The only real rival our country has as a corn= growing state is the Argentine. In that country in the neighborhood of the Parana River there is a large area which by reason of soil and climate is wonderfully adapted to the growing of this grain. As very little corn is used in any form in the Argentine, a large part of the crop, which now exceeds 300,000,000 bushels a year, is available for sale to the importing countries of the world.

The value of corn to the people of our own country can scarcely be estimated. Its direct use on our bill-of-fare in the form of green corn or canned corn is trifling compared with its use in the form of beef, pork, mutton, poultry, milk, butter, cheese, and eggs. As a food for animals and fowls it is the basis of all meat products in this country. While corn has always played an important part in dairying, its usefulness in the production of milk has been multiplied many times since the silo has become general throughout the dairy districts. When field corn is cut into ensilage or is shredded, all of the corn plant except the stump and roots is consumed.

The American canning industry draws largely upon sweet corn. In a single year more than 240,-000,000 cans of this splendid food are put up by the canners of this country.

Millions of dollars worth of various commercial products are made from the field corn of this country each year. Among these are sirups, starches, glucose, sugars, and various dextrines, or gum saps.

Oats a popular breakfast food. Practically every one of you finds on your breakfast table, at least once a week, and perhaps seven times a week, our modern descendants of "porridge." To our grand-parents there was but one food made from oats and that was oatmeal mush or "porridge." Grand-mother would take her basket to the store and buy so many pounds of oatmeal, which the grocer would take out of a barrel with an old-fashioned wooden scoop and weigh into a paper bag.

Today table oats are handled in a very different way. There are as many varieties of foods made of oats as you have fingers and toes. Perhaps the rolled oats are now most widely known. These are put up in sacks, barrels, cartons, and cans of various shapes and sizes ranging from one pound to one hundred and eighty pounds.

While there are many other kinds of cereal and patented breakfast foods sold, yet it is said that the United States consumes as food about 1,750,000 • barrels, or 315,000,000 pounds, of oats a year. Be-sides this many million buses of oats—by far the greater part of the world's crop—each year are fed to live stock.

America the greatest producer. With an average annual yield of more than a billion bushels, the United States is the largest producer of oats in the world; Russia ranks second, Germany third, and Canada fourth. Like wheat, oats can be raised in almost every country and are, perhaps, even hardier than wheat.

In America oats are grown in all the northern and western states. The South produces a small quantity, but the oats from that section are used almost entirely as stock food. The finest oats are said to be raised in Canada and in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Dakotas. Iowa and Illinois are the greatest oat-producing states in the Union. Oats are raised in Alaska, but only for stock feeding.

Exports to other countries. Oats are shipped yearly from the United States to every civilized country on the face of the globe, and to some not civilized.

Because of the wide range of the distribution of American oats it would be possible for oats harvested from the same acre in Iowa to be eaten in several different countries and by people of several different races. One pound of oats from an Iowa field might be eaten in China by the yellow man, another in Africa by the black man, another in the West by the red man, and another in Norway by the white man. Oats off the same acre in Minnesota might be eaten by the fisher folk of Iceland and the sheep raisers of Australia.

While we raise more oats than any other country, we are at times compelled to import them. Our importations are mostly from Canada, although occasionally we buy some from the Argentine.

Where rye is grown. Rye belongs to the wheat family. It is very hardy and will thrive under conditions too poor for most other grains. It succeeds best in a cool,. moist climate. This grain furnishes food for an enormous part of the world's population, but probably has a smaller distribution than any other cultivated grain. The world's production of rye, roughly speaking, is about one half as great as that of wheat. More than one half the total yield of rye is grown in Russia, where almost 800,000,000 bushels of this grain are produced yearly. Rye is the standard bread grain of the peasants of that country, who eat this cheaper grain and sell their wheat abroad. Next to Russia, Germany grows the largest amount of rye, producing about one half as much as Russia, or about one fourth of the world's supply. In the United States the rye crop is the smallest cereal crop grown, amounting to about 40,000,000 bushels a year. Very little rye is produced in the countries outside of Eastern Europe— Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary growing about 90 per cent of the world's rye crop.

Food value of rye. For many reasons rye might be classed as a neglected food in this country. As far as nutritive value is concerned, it is equal to any other cereal, not excepting wheat. It has never been a popular breadstuff in most countries, how-ever, because of the color of its flour and because of its lack of gluten, the quality in a grain which produces light, aerated bread.

Rye is prepared in a number of ways, one of which is called rye flakes. It is also used in a great many of the prepared breakfast foods and cereal drinks. Pumpernickel °is a dark German bread made of unbolted rye. It is very heavy and slightly acid, as it is made from fermented dough. It is handled in the better class of delicatessen stores in this country. Sometimes it is imported from Germany, but usually it is made here.

Mankind's first cereal food. Barley, another historic grain, is said to be the most ancient food of man. Several varieties, one the sacred barley of the ancients, were known to the lake dwellers of Switzer-land. It was cultivated, we are told in the Bible. in ancient Egypt, and was also the chief breadstuff of the Hebrews, the Greeks, and the Romans.

Production of barley. The growing of barley is much more evenly distributed than that of rye. It is the hardiest of all cereals. It ripens in Norway beyond the Arctic Circle. While the limit of cultivation extends farther north than any other grain, it also flourishes in semi-tropical countries.

The world's yearly production of this grain is a little less than that of rye, amounting to about1,340,000,000 bushels. Almost 30 per cent of the total crop is grown in Russia, where it is extensively consumed as food. However, barley is usually grown as food for animals and for brewing purposes.

The annual crop of the United States is about 170,000,000 bushels, this country ranking second among the barley-producing countries of the world. It is interesting to note that Japan ranks fifth in the production of barley, raising about 85,000,000 bushels yearly, whereas its production of other grains, with the exception of rice, is small.

Value of barley as a food. Barley contains less protein and carbohydrates but more fats and salts than wheat. There is a barley bread used more on account of its agreeable flavor than because of any special food value. In the United States barley is used to a considerable extent in soups, or mixed, finely ground, with infants' foods; but the consumption of the grain in this country is small.

Millet at home and abroad. Millet, the smallest of the grain foods, is used in some localities in the same way as rice, but the greater part of the millet grown in this country is used as green fodder. The ripe seeds are used as poultry food. We import millet from Germany and Italy, where it is used in large quantities in soups. We use the yellow Italian millet to some extent for puddings. But the larger portion of this product is sold here as food for cage birds. In Peru a variety known as Guinea maize is grown, from which is made a white flour of good flavor.

The grain that feeds one third the world. Rice is the most intensively cultivated of the world's grains, and forms the principal food supply of a large part of the population of the world. In volume the rice crop stands alongside that of wheat. The world's annual production of rice amounts to about 170,-000,000,000 pounds, to which the United States contributes a little more than 600,000,000 pounds, or one third of one per cent. We import about 130,000,000 pounds of rice yearly.

Until a few years ago the United States imported practically all the rice we used. In the beginning of the industry in this country rice was produced only 'in small quantities in the Carolinas and in Georgia. But in recent years the cultivation of rice has moved to Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and California. The rice production in these states has gradually increased, until in 1916 the crop amounted to almost 42,000,000 bushels or 1,176,000,000 pounds, the yield being . nearly 48 bushels per acre. This was the largest rice crop grown in the United States at that time, but undoubtedly the production will continue to increase. The Philippine Islands also produce a high grade of rice.

It is not possible to determine accurately the amount of rice produced in China, but it is reasonable to place the yield at between 50,000,000,000 and 60,000,000,000 pounds a year. The annual rice crop of British India amounts to about 70,000,000,-000 pounds a year, which is almost 40 per cent of the world's entire crop.

Rice producers the rice consumers. The great rice-producing countries of Asia—China, India, and Japan—are also the great rice consumers. China consumes its entire harvest. Japan imports large quantities of the cheaper grades of rice and exports much of its grain of better quality. In many parts of China and Japan rice and fish and a little tea make up almost the entire diet of the people.

Growing rice in the Orient. More than 50 per cent of the tillable land in the three main islands of Japan is devoted to the growing of rice. In Taiwan (Formosa), as in the southern part of China, two crops of rice are raised each year. China has almost eight thousand square miles more of land devoted to the raising of rice than is given over to the growing of wheat in this country. At the same time the Chinese are able to produce almost twice as much rice to the acre as we produce wheat. Thus you see what a wonderful rice harvest China has each year.

Only a small percentage of the rice crop is grown on dry land, the greater part of it being raised in standing water. The rice fields are divided into small plats and flooded from the irrigation canals, of which there are several thousand miles in China and Japan. Where the land is rolling, small plats are leveled out on the hillsides, or graded into ter-races, surrounded by narrow, saucer-like rims to hold the water. These little rice plots are cultivated with a thoroughness seldom, if ever, seen in our own land.

The way in which these Orientals utilize every inch of ground, sparing neither time nor labor to obtain a good crop, is remarkable. Without modern machinery of any kind, they transplant practically every spear of rice growing on that vast area of rice fields. We wonder at the patience and persistence of the Chinese farmer, who is painfully and laboriously using a foot pump to draw water from a canal to flood the tiny patch of land on which his wife and children are working.

This irrigation is not made necessary by an exceptionally dry climate—for the rainfall in many rice-growing sections is heavy—but because the rice requires an unusual amount of water. And these fields are continually being fertilized, not because the land is worn out or run down, but because the Orientals have learned in their four thousand years of farming that one cannot continually take from the soil without giving back, and that to feed the soil is surely "casting bread upon the waters."

Growing rice in the United States. While rice apparently yields best on lowlands, if there is an abundant water supply and if the fields are properly irrigated, large crops can be raised on land not naturally swampy. In the United States the most fruitful rice lands are in the coastal plain region of the Southern States. The planting of rice is done in America by plowing and disking the land and then pulverizing the soil as finely as possible. Then the seed is sown, either broadcast or with rice seeders, which plant it in drills about four inches apart. When rice grown in this way is about six inches tall the fields are flooded by irrigation, the water being allowed to remain on them until the grain begins to mature. The water is then drained off in order to allow the fields to dry out for the harvest.

Food value of rice.

Rice is highly nutritious, easily digested, and very palatable. Yet in America the most nutritive part of this grain is often sacrificed for the sake of securing a more attractive appearance. At least this is true when polished rice is considered. Unpolished rice contains much more food value than polished rice, and the natural brown head rice is most valuable of all.

The rice kernel is composed of a starchy central portion, around which is a delicate, nutritious covering. When the housewife learns to prefer the unpolished rice, especially the natural brown rice, she will get more food of this kind for the same money and the men in the rice industry will be saved the labor and expense of polishing. The unpolished grain is dull of color, and has a white, dusty appearance. The polished rice is a shining white product that glistens.

Rice used in varied Stones for hulling rice and removing ways. Rice is used in the chaff a great variety of ways. It will furnish a substantial base for a meal, or can be made into a dainty dessert. An excellent soup can be made with it and a still better pudding. It is both pleasing and healthful. In one respect rice stands almost alone—it is a favorite food with all races, because it receives readily the characteristics of any desired flavor. The Italian, who likes rich foods, prepares rice with oils and finds the dish suited to his palate. The Mexican uses rice with chili to produce the "hot" sensation he likes with his food. The Englishman takes it highly spiced with fruit sirups, and the American uses it with tomatoes and soups.

America makes and imports large quantities of rice flour and rice meal. In Japan and China rice flour is used for making bread and other articles of food.

Home | More Articles | Email: