Saturday, July 18, 2015

Seedy Saturday- Wheat

Happy Saturday everyone!  Today we are going to focus on a grain that is well-known to us.

Wheat is a cereal grain that is produced all over the world and is the biggest source of vegetable protein in our food.  Wheat grain is primarily used to make flour, but also for fermentation to make alcohol and biofuel.  As with many plants, wheat has classifications as well; 6 to be exact.  They include: hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, durum (hard), hard white and soft white wheat.  The hard wheats are used for making bread, rolls and all-purpose flower, as they have the most gluten in them, while the soft wheats are used in flat bread, cakes, pastries, crackers, muffins and biscuits.  Wheat is also used as feed for livestock.

During the period of 1800-60, which is when the Backus family lived in Elgin County, agriculture in our area, and throughout Ontario, was composed mainly of wheat production. Wheat was the easiest crop to grow and sell, making it an important source of cash for settlers.  The main markets were Britain and Lower Canada, and the economy was that of boom-and-bust. The Corn Law was put into effect in 1820 and its restrictions closed our wheat out of British markets, which caused our wheat prices and land values to drop drastically.  The wheat market boomed again in 1825, but it collapsed again in 1834-35 with crop failures resulting in near starvation in many newly settled areas.

No comments: