A World Without Ag Wednesdays: Wheat

My favorite crop is wheat. Not only because it is one of the prettiest to me, but also because of what it produces. Without wheat, Olive Garden would be obsolete. Poof! Say good-bye to pasta and breadsticks. It is a very sad picture, no doubt. So, not only is it a picturesque crop, but it is also responsible for some pretty yummy things.

All around my house, they have begun to harvest the dried wheat. Many farmers burn the fields after the grain has been harvested to improve the soil.  Wheat is pretty popular in America as it is the primary grain used in US grain products. It is grown in 42 states with Kansas ranking at the top, producing enough wheat to make 36 million loaves of bread and enough to everyone in the world for about 2 weeks. That is a ton of amber waves of grain.

wheat3Past and Present of Wheat

Wheat originated in what is now Iraq and was first planted in America (1777) as a hobby crop. Now there are thousands of varieties of wheat that are separated into 6 categories:

  1. Hard Red Winter (HRW)
  2. Hard Red Spring (HRS)
  3. Soft Red Winter (SRW)
  4. Hard White (HW)
  5. Soft White (SW)
  6. Durum

The different types of wheat have special qualities. The red wheats have a distinctive flavor–nutty or earthy. The white wheats are sweeter. The harder wheats are great for pizza doughs, soft rolls and croissants even though they are harder to grind. although the soft red winter are easier to grind, they have lower protein levels than their harder red counterparts. Often times, wheat is mixed into a unique blend to create the perfect flour that has the protein, flavor, and softness or hardness that is desired for whatever it is being made into. Cakes and pastries are made from the soft white as this wheat is the sweetest variety. Durum wheat is the hardest wheat and is used for the highest quality pastas and noodles. Italy uses only durum wheat. It is also has some of the highest protein. The different wheats are more commonly grown in various areas (e.g. Hard red winter is popular in Kansas and hard red spring is often grown in northern states towards Canada).

wheatWheat Facts

  • A bushel of wheat weighs around 60 pounds
  • A bushel of wheat produces roughly 42 pounds of white flour and 60 pounds of whole-wheat flour
  • There are more than 600 pasta shapes in the world
  • Traditional tortillas used ground corn. Flour tortillas were not introduced until the 19th century
  • A bushel of wheat makes about 210 servings of spaghetti
  • One bushel of wheat contains approximately one million individual kernels.
  • One acre of wheat produces 40 bushels of wheat
  • Wheat is a member of the grass family.

I don’t know about you, but all this talk of bread and pasta has got me hungry. Bring on the carbs!





World Without Ag Wednesdays: Lanolin Love

Oh my goodness. Where did the time go? Another semester of graduate school started today, as did the colder weather. True to North Carolina weather, it was in the 70’s on Sunday, and now it has barely gotten above freezing. Thankfully, I have a wonderful wool coat for the trek from the parking deck to my classes. No worries, guys, Rural Ris isn’t a popsicle yet–that may be in the morning though.

Tomorrow is supposed to be no higher than 27 degrees. Now, for those up north, I know 27 degrees is not that cold, but for us here in NC, it might as well be Antarctica. That much cold also means putting extra bedding down for the animals, setting out heat lamps, and making sure all pipes and hoses are drained. Depending how bad it gets, I may be swinging an ax trying to break the animals waters–funny sight for sure.

Anyhow, this first day of classes is now over, and I have survived. So, now on to “A World Without Ag Wednesday” where we highlight some of my favorite things.


I may be a farm girl, but I am all about bling, dressing up, and makeup. Oh, makeup. It is inevitably dangerous for me to go into the makeup aisles of the local drug store. I just want all of it. makeup

Clearly, I don’t need anymore (that is only half of my makeup collection). What am I saying? You can never have too much makeup.

I also appreciate a good lotion, especially in the winter months when my hands get chapped. What I love even more is that agriculture has a part to play in my beloved makeup and lotion.

In a world without ag, a lot of makeup and hand creams would not be the same if it were not for lanolin.

What is lanolin?

Lanolin is the grease from a sheep’s wool. It is also called wool wax or wool fat. It is of a yellow tinge and comes from the oil glands of a sheep. When you touch a sheep or unwashed wool, your hands will feel greasy and sticky. This is the lanolin you are feeling. It is the equivalent of the oils you secrete.

How do you get lanolin from the sheep?

After the fleece is shorn from the sheep, it is scoured (boiled) in water with added salt. The lanolin floats to the top. It is then purified by shaking it with olive oil and water. The impurities will move to the water and the oil with the lanolin floating between the two properties.

What is it used for?

Lanolin is a great moisturizer and is often used in lotions. This is a favorite of mine:

wool cream

It can also be used in other cosmetics. Cool huh? Wait, it gets better!

Because lanolin is water-repellent, it is used on oil rigs as a corrosion inhibitor. In the same way, it is also used for spare auto parts when put into long-term storage. In addition, it can also be found in paints, and is used as a leather finish.

Embrace the lanolin love. It gets a bit messy when you play with sheep all day but makes fabulous products!