Grow, my beauty, grow! Wheat is neat
Terrible rhyme. Embarrassing, I tell you. But wheat is neat because it’s a swift staple crop without much fuss. Ancient people discovered that quite readily and swiftly. It produces food after 4 months or so, can be cut down and stored, can be used to feed livestock, turned into bread, and so much more. Grapes? You need to wait for 3 years until they produce an edible crop, which is a bloomin’ disaster when it comes to feeding hungry villagers. Wheat became a dominant crop simply because it grows consistently and readily. This means that unless you’re totally established in one location, you can’t plant grapes because there would be nothing to eat until 3 years later. With wheat, you can cultivate it, eat it, collect some seeds, and move on from that location when the local game or prey is exhausted. It’s a nomadic crop!
So bye-bye Miss...simplistic apple...Pie
Apples are an informative example of a food source that sustains us, but require cross-pollination to be grown and cultivated, and are therefore surprisingly intricate. An apple you buy in the supermarket does not come from just one apple progenitor. It has two parents - Apple A and Apple B. Their DNA is mixed to produce a new apple. We have the benefit of science to work that out, but imagine how long it took ancient people, who couldn’t read, write, or really do much, to figure out and ascertain that!!! Early humans had a far, far easier time eating weeds (yes, weeds), which is how lettuce, oats, beets, leeks and rye started out. They grew, self-pollinated, and survived more difficult conditions well enough to be easy for early farmers to grow themselves. Et voila! A bowl of weeds, anyone?
Pulses and cereals So, humans weren’t entirely daft. They realised quickly that cereals (like wheat and barley) and pulses (beans and lentils) were superfoods. Cereals aren’t really that great nutritionally, but they offer simple, easy calories quickly. Pulses are full of protein and nutrition (soybeans are 25% protein) and grow just as easily. Ancient humans didn’t even know what vitamins and minerals were, so they were able to conclude that easily-grown, belly-filling foods are clearly awesome.
Your very own wheat and cow
Every single nation, state, society, or gang around the world happened upon their own staple crop, but two dominated - wheat and rice. They feed a huge amount of people around the world and comprise a massive amount of the calories humans consume daily. The problem is, humans are pathetically weak and terrible at digging up heavy, water-logged dirt and planting row upon row of these types of plants. We just didn’t know what to do. Breaking our backs day after day was just a terrible, awful life to lead. So, we decided to put our brains to the conundrum and...put ropes around large animals’ necks and make them pull a plow through the heavy, water-logged dirt. Booya! What a genius idea. Beasts of burden like horses, cows/oxen, and very, very strong turkeys (perhaps?) could be efficiently used to prepare vast stretches of land to be used to grow vast quantities of yummy cereal crops. And then, when the beasts of burden get too old to pull it, we can eat them, too! Human ingenuity!