Beyond bread: The varied ways we embrace wheat

In many households in Kenya, the mention of wheat brings up memories of tasty chapatis or maandazi.
This is because this how the crop impacts majority of Kenyan homes.

Wheat grain flour is the main ingredient of many foods such as pancakes, cakes, and breakfast cereals. Biscuits, crackers, scones, wafers, pizza, pasta, pastries are all made of it. Wheat-based soups, spaghetti, noodles, muffins and even in drinks such as ale and bear have it, too. And the list goes on and on!

It is, therefore, not a surprise that this is one of the most ancient and versatile crops. It has been a
cornerstone of human civilization for centuries. Wheat’s widespread usage has a lot to do with its adaptability. Its vast nutritional value and culinary versatility makes it core part of many foods. Interestingly the grain is one of the essential part of various cultures around the world.

Wheat transcends borders

From pasta dishes in Italy to dumplings in China, wheat is critical. Chapatti and mandazi for Kenyans has seen wheat transcend borders, becoming a staple in various cuisines globally. Increasingly wheat-based foods are becoming beloved classics, blending modern menus with local ingredients for delightful results.

Wheat’s nutritional profile is a vital aspect of our interaction with the grain. The grain is primarily rich in
carbohydrates. Further, it contains other essential nutrients such as proteins and vitamins, especially the B vitamins. Farming of the grain provides income sustenance for millions of people, too.

Additionally, wheat does not provide food for people only. After harvesting wheat, the straws are used as livestock bedding, providing a comfortable and absorbent surface for animals.

Wheat straws are also processed to extract useful fibers. These extracts can be used to make paper, twine, mats and baskets. This is because wheat fibers are strong and flexible, making them suitable for these applications.

Additionally, industries are turning wheat into bioethanol through fermentation. Bioethanol is a type of fuel used as an alternative to gasoline in vehicles. It helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a positive step towards fighting global warming.

Read also: Food inflation returning Kenyans to the farm

Production of adhesives

Also, the flour contains gluten, a protein that gives dough its elasticity. This property makes the flour valuable in the production of adhesives, glues and other industrial products that require binding qualities. It is also makes skincare products. Industrial usage has seen wheat processed into dietary supplements for its antioxidant and moisturizing properties. This is because the wheat germ oil, which comes from embryo of wheat kernel, is rich in vitamin E and other nutrients.

Lastly, the grain’s proteins often derived from the germ are used in hair care products such as shampoos and conditioners. This protein can help improve the strength and texture of your hair.

In recent times, wheat’s versatility has led to culinary innovations. The crop is catering to a diverse dietary
preference and restrictions worldwide. The rise of gluten-free options, using alternate grains or its substitutes
underscores its adaptability to meet various needs.

Overall, the grain’s versatility extends beyond being a source of food. Increasingly, wheat’s byproducts and components are finding applications in a variety of industries and products.

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