Wondering About Wheat

We all wonder about silly stuff. At least I think people do. For example, the comedian Steven Wright wonders what it would be like to skate on the OTHER side of the ice.

In October 2009 I wrote a post called “Who In Hell Figured Out Coffee.” One of those things I wondered about every now and then.

Yesterday at the supermarket I made an impulse buy of a 1 lb. package of pancake mix which set me off to wondering, once again as I have over the years about wheat.

Thanks to the serendipity of the internet I got answers to some of those things I’d wondered about.

For instance, more foods are made with wheat than any other cereal grain. Like pancake mix when you take out the other things in the one pound box like, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, sugar, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, dextrose, nonfat dry milk, partially hydroginateed soybean oil, salt, wheat gluten, calcium carbonate,  defatted soy flour, sorn syrup solids, soy lecithin, sodium casseinate, mono and diglycerides, soybean oil and lactic acid. ( I may rethink the whole idea of pancakes for breakfast after writing this out.)

One of the things I wondered about the most was how much space did it take to produce that pound of flour?

In the United States, one acre of wheat (depending on wheat class and where grown) yields an average 42 bushels of wheat.

One bushel of wheat contains approximately one million individual kernels.

One bushel of wheat weighs approximately 60 pounds.

One bushel of wheat yields approximately 42 pounds of white flour.

One bushel of wheat yields approximately 60 pounds of whole-wheat flour.

A bushel of wheat yields 42 commercial loaves of white bread (one-and-a-half pound loaves).

A bushel of wheat makes about 90 one-pound loaves of whole wheat bread.

One bushel (Weird word, bushel. Say it over real fast a half a dozen times in your head.) takes up 1/42 of an acre. There are 43,560 square feet in an acre, so 1/42 of that is 1,037.14 square feet.  The size of the average American home today is 2,700 square feet which is up from 1,400 square feet in 1970. To get one loaf of this

you need an area roughly 5′X5′ and that loaf of whole wheat bread grows on less than half that space.

So now I’ll just have to find something else to wonder about.

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One response to “Wondering About Wheat

  1. I remember your coffee post – and I never did mention that, thanks to you, I’ve got my French press now. Yum!

    Growing wheat is beautiful – those amber waves of grain can’t be beat. I’m not much in favor of the genetically modified foolishness that some agribusiness is trying to push now, but wheat? You bet.

    On the socio-economic side, it’s pretty interesting to have grown up through the whole cycle of homemade bread to Wonder Bread and back again. White bread was “upscale” – despite the unfortunate fact that all that processing took much of the nutrition out of the product. The move back to whole grains is all good.

    One of the joys of staying with my grandparents in the summer was the arrival twice a week of the Omar Man in his truck. He ran a route and brought bread, doughnuts, bear claws, cookies, etc. straight to the homes. If I was diligent and earned 25 cents weeding grandma’s garden, I could buy six oatmeal cookies!

    Even as a kid I was never a big fan of white bread although that’s what we always had. It was Sunbeam, not Wonder. Had a little blond girl as their mascot. Sort of the Coppertone girl home from the beach.

    I really miss my Krupps espresso machine. That made the best coffee. I have my French press, of course but I don’t use it very often. I prefer my mocha pot. Seems to extract more flavor from the beans than the press does. It’s a bit strange that you can use the same beans in the press and the pot and get a different flavor from each one.