Why Is the Midwest Called the Breadbasket?

The Midwest receives the nickname of "breadbasket" because of the abundant cereal crops it produces for the United States and the world; these crops include wheat, corn and oats. The history of staple cereal crop production in the Midwest dates back to the 1700s. The fertile soils of the Midwestern states and availability of cheap, abundant land proved suitable for launching a large-scale farming effort, ultimately leading to high volume production of predictable and reliable crops.

In addition to fertile soils, the staple crops in the category of bread crops rank among the cheapest and most stable, making them cost-effective and easy for farmers to grow. From the 1700s onward, the Great Plains supplied the United States with most of its cereal crops. This production proved especially important during World War I and World War II, as Midwestern farms supplied American soldiers with food. The advent of technology in the late 1800s and through the twentieth century boosted production of crops from the Midwest, allowing higher production rates and exportation in greater quantities.

In addition to providing American soldiers and civilians with food throughout history, wheat and wheat products from the Midwest export around the world too. These products appear in Europe and other international locales, providing food for citizens worldwide and establishing sound political relationships.