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What are the origins of wheat?

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Quick Answer

Based on written historical records, wheat originated in Southeast Asia, including in Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Syria. Wheat belongs to the genus Triticum, which encompasses several different relatives of wheat, some of which might have predated it.

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Full Answer

Wheat might also have originated in Ancient China. Written records of its propagation date back to 2,700 B.C. Wheat is an important staple of many cultural diets because of its wide availability and its nourishment qualities. Today, wheat crops consume more farming land than any other crop, and it is third in overall production behind cotton and corn.

In North America, wheat's history dates to the 1800s, when it was brought from overseas by the British and the Russians. Since different types of wheat can be grown throughout the year, including in the winter, it is historically an easy crop to grow in a number of climates.

Throughout history, wheat has been used to nourish both humans and livestock. It is easy to store, which made it a convenient crop for ancient civilizations, who lacked modern conveniences for storing food that might spoil. As much as 20 percent of the calories consumed by the world's population are derived from wheat. The high concentration of carbohydrates supplies energy and other nutrients.

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