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Mainly consumed in the form of flour, wheat, together with its many derivations, tends to go unnoticed. Here are some wheat facts and figures which reveal all of its secrets.
Wheat facts and figures: nutritional facts, consumption, origins
30 minutes are sufficient to prepare an excellent bulgur. "Cracked wheat", as it is often called, is placed in a bowl with the addition of a small amount of boiling water, in the same way as couscous, before being covered. After half an hour, the bulgur will have absorbed the water. It is now ready to be seasoned with salt, olive oil and finely sliced red onions and used as an excellent salad ingredient.
43 is the average number of grains to a single ear of wheat if the land being cultivated has a sufficient amount of potassium. After all, this is one of the elements mainly conditioning the cereal growth. Wherever there is an insufficient quantity, the grains will not be more than 36 to an ear of wheat. Along with potassium, another important element is nitrogen: on land where this element is scarce, the number of grains will hardly reach 26.3 to an ear, while nitrogen-rich soil will yield as many as 48.8. The amount of manganese also plays an important role: the difference between a soil that is deficient or rich in manganese takes the average number of grains from 36.30 to 40.60.
327 kilocalories are produced from 100 grams of wheat. The composition of this cereal is very interesting from a nutritional viewpoint: in fact, 100 grams contain 72 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of proteins and 1.5 grams of fats. Apart from which, it contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals. For instance 5.5 milligrams of niacin, 31.2 milligrams of choline, 363 milligrams of potassium and 288 milligrams of phosphorus.
8800 B.C. was the period when man first started to cultivate wheat. The first area employed for this purpose was the so-called Fertile Crescent, the “cradle of civilization” comprising Mesopotamia, Assyria, Phoenicia and Egypt. Some findings would appear to show that, in actual fact, wheat was farmed in the East (in a much wider area comprising the Crescent) as early as 9600 B.C.
11,400,000 tons of wheat are imported by Egypt making this country the world’s greatest importer. Lagging quite a distance behind Egypt, comes Indonesia with imports equivalent to 8.1 million tons, followed by Algeria (7.1), Brazil (6), the European Union (6), Turkey (5.8), Iran (5.8), Japan (5.8), Nigeria (4.6), Mexico (4.6) and the Philippines (4.6).
The 34,500,000 tons of wheat produced in the 2014-2015 period make the European Union the world’s number one exporter. The runners up follow closely on its heels: Canada beats the United States with its 24 million tons against 23, even though the early forecasts for the 2015-2016 period reverse the situation. The fourth place goes to Russia with its 22.2 million tons and Australia comes fifth with 17.5 million.
218,000,000 hectares of land is given over to wheat growing worldwide. Such a vast area in fact that no other type of farmed area comes anywhere close. The overall area of land used for growing wheat is actually greater than all other areas put together!
713,000,000 tons of wheat were produced throughout the world in 2013. An enormous quantity which makes it the third most widely cultivated cereal in the world. Corn tops this special rating (1016 million tons) followed by rice (745 million). Wheat registers a downward trend since it occupied second place until 2009. However, wheat continues to be the main source of vegetable protein in the world, since its protein content is significantly higher than that of the other two cereals topping the list.