A brief history of my breakfast

So there was Earth.

And on Earth formed the oceans.

In the oceans grew simple-celled life, and these are the prokaryotes.

From the prokaryotes grew complex-celled life, and these are the eukaryotes.

From the eukaryotes grew multicellular life, some of which photosynthesised, and thus came plants to grow on the land and in the waters of Earth.

Among the plants arose some that flowered and fruited, and these are the angiosperms.

Among the angiosperms arose some with a single seed-leaf, and these are the monocots.

Among the monocots arose the grasses, and among the grasses grew the ancestors whose progeny would become known to us as Cereals.

Earth now produces more than 2,500 million tonnes of cereals in a year.

50 grams of which are in my bowl of porridge.

From primordial soup to porridge in 3 billion years

2 Replies on “A brief history of my breakfast

  1. Your FAO reference includes rice. I have the feeling that by “Corn” you have in mind grains such as wheat and barley and spelt and such. These cereals are really not all that productive, especially in comparison with irrigated rice, which forms the backbone of virtually all the preindustrial rural societies of east and southeast Asia. Take a look at Paolo Malanima, “Pre-Industrial Economies,” pp. 35- 80 , in Power to the People: Energy in Europe over the Last Five Centuries , eds. Astrid Kander and Paolo Malanima (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2013), especially the text and table at page 45. Until the societies of temperate Europe started running on massive imports and fossil fuels, their agricultural systems had enormous limits, which if pushed, could lead to ecological calamities.

    1. A good point well made, and thank you for the reference!

      The working definition of “corn” that I have adopted for this website – “the chief cereal crops of a district” – does allow for the inclusion of rice, even though I have seldom if ever heard rice referred to as corn. So I will try to include rice in the mix, plus other crops such as sorghum and the various millets. Interestingly ambiguous are things like buckwheat: not even a grass let alone a wheat, but often used like a cereal. Something I’m minded to blog about later…

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