Various cereals and their products

A cereal (or cereal grain) is any grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain (botanically, a type of fruit called a caryopsis), composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran. The term may also refer to the resulting grain itself. Cereal grain crops are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other type of crop[1] and are therefore staple crops. Edible grains from other plant families, such as buckwheat (Polygonaceae), quinoa (Amaranthaceae) and chia (Lamiaceae), are referred to as pseudocereals.

In their natural, unprocessed, whole grain form, cereals are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, oils, and protein. When processed by the removal of the bran, and germ, the remaining endosperm is mostly carbohydrate. In some developing countries, grain in the form of rice, wheat, millet, or maize constitutes a majority of daily sustenance. In developed countries, cereal consumption is moderate and varied but still substantial.

The word cereal is derived from Ceres, the Roman goddess of harvest and agriculture.[2]


Ancient history

Threshing of grain in ancient Egypt
Roman harvesting machine

Agriculture allowed for the support of an increased population, leading to larger societies and eventually the development of cities. It also created the need for greater organization of political power (and the creation of social stratification), as decisions had to be made regarding labor and harvest allocation and access rights to water and land. Agriculture bred immobility, as populations settled down for long periods of time, which led to the accumulation of material goods.[3]

Early Neolithic villages show evidence of the development of processing grain. The Levant is the ancient home of the ancestors of wheat, barley and peas, in which many of these villages were based. There is evidence of the cultivation of figs in the Jordan Valley as long as 11,300 years ago, and cereal (grain) production in Syria approximately 9,000 years ago. During the same period, farmers in China began to farm rice and millet, using man-made floods and fires as part of their cultivation regimen.[4] Fiber crops were domesticated as early as food crops, with China domesticating hemp, cotton being developed independently in Africa and South America, and Western Asia domesticating flax.[5] The use of soil amendments, including manure, fish, compost and ashes, appears to have begun early, and developed independently in several areas of the world, including Mesopotamia, the Nile Valley and Eastern Asia.[6]

The first cereal grains were domesticated by early primitive humans.[7] About 8,000 years ago, they were domesticated by ancient farming communities in the Fertile Crescent region. Emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, and barley were three of the so-called Neolithic founder crops in the development of agriculture. Around the same time, millets and rices were starting to become domesticated in East Asia. Sorghum and millets were also being domesticated in sub-Saharan West Africa.

The Green Revolution

During the second half of the 20th century there was a significant increase in the production of high-yield cereal crops worldwide, especially wheat and rice, due to an initiative known as the Green Revolution.[8] The strategies developed by the Green Revolution focused on fending off starvation and were very successful in raising overall yields of cereal grains, but did not give sufficient relevance to nutritional quality.[9] These modern high yield-cereal crops have low quality proteins, with essential amino acid deficiencies, are high in carbohydrates, and lack balanced essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and other quality factors.[9]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Graan
Alemannisch: Getreide
አማርኛ: እህል
Ænglisc: Corn
العربية: حب (محصول)
aragonés: Cerial
armãneashti: Yiptu
asturianu: Cereal
Avañe'ẽ: Hu'itĩrã
azərbaycanca: Dənli bitkilər
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Збожжа
Boarisch: Droad
བོད་ཡིག: འབྲུ་རིགས།
bosanski: Žitarice
brezhoneg: Ed
буряад: Таряан
català: Cereal
Чӑвашла: Кĕрпе
čeština: Obilniny
Cymraeg: Grawn
dansk: Korn
Deutsch: Getreide
eesti: Teravili
Ελληνικά: Δημητριακά
español: Cereal
Esperanto: Cerealo
euskara: Zereal
فارسی: غلات
føroyskt: Korn
français: Céréale
Frysk: Nôt
Gaeilge: Arbhar
galego: Cereal
한국어: 곡물
Hausa: Siril
हिन्दी: खाद्यान्न
hrvatski: Žitarice
Ido: Cerealo
Ilokano: Sereal
Bahasa Indonesia: Serealia
íslenska: Korn
italiano: Cereali
עברית: דגנים
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಧಾನ್ಯ
kaszëbsczi: Zbòzé
Kiswahili: Nafaka
kurdî: Dan
Кыргызча: Дан эгиндери
лакку: Къама
Latina: Frumentum
latviešu: Labība
lietuvių: Javai
Limburgs: Kaore
lingála: Losángó
la .lojban.: gurni
lumbaart: Cereài
magyar: Gabona
македонски: Жито
മലയാളം: സിറിയൽ
मराठी: धान्य
مصرى: حبوب
Bahasa Melayu: Bijirin
монгол: Амуу
Nederlands: Graan
Nedersaksies: Graon
नेपाल भाषा: बुलि
日本語: 穀物
нохчийн: Буьртиг-ялта
Nordfriisk: Kurn
norsk: Korn
norsk nynorsk: Korn
occitan: Cereala
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Don ekinlari
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਅਨਾਜ
polski: Zboża
português: Cereal
română: Cereale
Runa Simi: Riwi
Scots: Cereal
shqip: Drithi
sicilianu: Ciriali
Simple English: Cereal
slovenčina: Obilniny
slovenščina: Žito
کوردی: دەخڵ
српски / srpski: Житарице
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Žitarice
suomi: Vilja
svenska: Sädesslag
Tagalog: Angkak
தமிழ்: தானியம்
Türkçe: Tahıl
українська: Зернові культури
اردو: غلہ
vèneto: Çereałi
vepsän kel’: Villänkul'turad
Tiếng Việt: Cây lương thực
Winaray: Lugas
吴语: 谷物
ייִדיש: תבואה
粵語: 穀物
žemaitėška: Javā
中文: 谷物