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January 31, 1948


JAMA. 1948;136(5):330. doi:10.1001/jama.1948.02890220040011

Why do we send wheat as a most important article of diet to the hungry people we are trying to help? The high food value of wheat per unit of weight, its excellent keeping qualities, its ease of handling and storing make it ideal for shipping; further, wheat satisfies hunger as do few other foods. Why is wheat the dominant food grain—the grain of choice for bread? The answer rests chiefly in two factors: (1) properties inherent in wheat itself and (2) the widespread, general insistence on wheat and its milled products.

Aside from certain areas of Monsoon Asia where agricultural factors and habits observed for centuries have combined to establish rice as the dominant food grain,1 five cereal grains—wheat, corn, oats, barley and rye—constitute the principal grain crops. Except for certain differences in quantitative aspects, all cereal grains exhibit similarities in composition and nutritive value. Some of these