Wheat and Bread by the Numbers

Common foods, rich with history and biblical meaning. /

9600 The approximate year B.C. when wheat was first cultivated in the Fertile Crescent, an area through which the Tigris and Euphrates rivers run, where the Bible places Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:10–14).

3,975 The number of feet of the longest loaf of bread in the world, made at a bakers’ party in Portugal in 2005. When sliced, it fed over 15,000 people. Biblical proportions.

1777 The year wheat was first planted (as a hobby crop) in the United States.

1928 The year pre-sliced bread was invented in Chillicothe, Missouri, after being worked on for 16 years. Many thought it was a passing fad.

12.6 The grams of protein in a 3.5 ounce serving of hard red winter wheat, almost equal to the grams of protein in the same serving of soybeans (13g), making wheat a major source of protein in many areas of the world.

10 The years a family of four could live off the bread produced by one acre of wheat.

9 The number of seconds it takes a combine to harvest enough wheat to make about 70 loaves of bread. The combine harvesting machine is itself a wonder; combining the threefold process of harvesting grain, it enables agriculture to be carried out by a small fraction of our population.

6 The number of wheat classifications: hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, durum (hard), hard white, soft white. Hard wheats have the most gluten and are used for making bread, rolls, and all purpose-flour. Soft wheats make flat bread, cakes, pastries, crackers, muffins, and biscuits.

1.25–2 The hours it takes for Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the yeast commonly used to make bread rise, to double in numbers, making it easily cultured. The same yeast is used in winemaking, thus it is an organism that stands behind three metaphors Jesus used to teach people about the kingdom of heaven: yeast (Matt. 13: 33), bread (John 6:35), and wine (Mark 14:25).

1 A single loaf of bread, when partaken at Communion, is a powerful symbol of Christian unity:Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf” (1 Cor. 10:17).

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Also in this Issue

Issue 18 / March 19, 2015
  1. Editors’ Note
  2. The Dance of Suffering and Love

    What to do with our grief for the world. /

  3. Precious Oil, Mingled with Tears

    Hope happens here at this nexus of bitter and sweet. /

  4. Hope

    ‘It is the singular gift / we cannot destroy in ourselves’ /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Links to amazing stuff /

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