Children laying down laughing in a wheatfield

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A whole lot of fun whole grain facts

You might already know a lot about whole grain – like how important it is in a balanced diet, and how tasty it can be. But do you really know everything about it? No? Great! You’ve come to the right place.

Chewing it over

People have been eating whole grains for more than 17,000 years – they picked seeds, rubbed off the husks and chewed the kernels raw or boiled them in water.

Illustration of boiling water over a fire

Oh mummy!

Egyptians used to bury mummies with necklaces made from barley, and in 1324 King Edward II of England set the standard for the measurement - making the ‘inch’ equal to ‘three grains of barley, dry and round, placed end-to-end lengthwise’.

Illustration of a necklace made from barley

A whole lot of grains

One bushel of wheat contains around a million individual whole grain kernels.

Illustration ofa bucket of grains

War on whole grain

Amaranth is a whole grain that was incredibly important to the Aztecs. So when the Spanish invaded, their leader, Cortez, tried to destroy the Aztecs by not allowing them to grow it – anyone caught was put to death!

Illustration of a skull made of wheat

Tut, tut ...

Khorasan grain is a wheat variety that was brought to the US as a souvenir from an Egyptian tomb - it was sold as ‘King Tut’s Wheat’. Now known as kamut, an ancient Egyptian word for wheat, this rich, buttery-tasting wheat is certified organic.

Illustration a pharao with a kamut

Rice in disguise

Wild rice isn’t really rice at all – it’s the seed of an aquatic grass originally grown by Native American tribes. It has a strong flavour and is quite expensive so it’s usually mixed with other types of rice.

Illustration of a grain of white and brown rice

Wheat almighty!

Wheat is the most widely grown cereal grain. It’s grown on over 17 per cent of the total cultivated land in the world, and is the staple food for 35 per cent of the world’s population. It provides more calories and protein in the world’s diet than any other crop.

Illustration of a globe

Pop goes the kernel!

Popcorn is simply a puffed-up whole grain. It’s made from a special type of corn called ‘zea mays everta’ – the only type of corn that can ‘pop’. Try popping your own corn at home with the kids – great fun!

Illustration of puffing grains

Food of goods and kings

In Asia, the Amaranth grain is known as ‘king seed’ and ‘seed sent by God’.

Illustration of an indian god

Pure gold

Quinoa, pronounced ‘keen-wa’, is a whole grain that was highly prized by the ancient Incas – they called it ‘gold of the Incas’.

Illustration of gold and wheat

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