Grain has a unique function in the world. As a major staple food, it is a key part of feeding the world population as it is to building regional economies, supporting agriculture, and putting healthy, nutritious products out in the food supply. The function of grain is quite diverse in everything that it supports. From such small, dry seeds, so much is derived.
Here are eleven useful functions of grains in the world:
Function #1: Grains can support the population
The primary function of grain, as it relates to human beings, is to support the population. Entire regions and countries rely on grain to survive, including many developing countries where rice, wheat, millet, and maize contribute to daily sustenance. When we look at countries, including Canada and the United States, refined and processed grain is very popular.
Function #2: Grains provide the body nutrients.
Grains are very nutrient-dense and are packed with beneficial nutrients, from fibre to thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, magnesium, and selenium. When someone eats whole grains as a part of their lifestyle, they’re packing in the nutrients. The result is a lower risk of several chronic diseases and conditions simply by consuming grain.
Function #3: Grains convert to animal feed.
Grain also forms the caloric base that is provided to animals and livestock. It is used in animal agriculture and is a type of animal feed that can support different animals.
Grains contain much fibre, which helps the digestive system work and is affordable to buy in large quantities. It continues to form a major portion of the diets fed to the livestock of all types.
Function #4: Grains are durable.
The natural makeup of grain is to be self-protected. Its shell is dry and hard. It is naturally very durable. Its durability makes it easy to pass a grain through mechanical harvesting, put it into storage for long periods, transport it by rail or ship to other locations for processing, and more.
Function #5: Grains provide income to farmers.
Many farmers specialize in growing grains. Their farms are equipped with the latest technologies grain bin temperature monitoring or moisture monitoring solutions. These systems help farmers manage their harvests under optimal conditions. Farmers take the quality of their grains seriously to maximize their value.
There are communities of farmers worldwide that survive year-in and year-out based on their grain harvest. The crop is very popular and always in demand. Grain is many farmers’ main source of income. Some families have made a living off farming grain for centuries, extending an even deeper meaning and function as representative of their culture.
Function #6: Grains support the economy.
Another function of grain is supporting the global commodity market, with crops like maize, soybeans, rice, and wheat all being important. In analyzing food systems, and production and supply, the world again discovers how much impact grain has. The recent Russia-Ukraine conflict is an example of how it hurts various markets when prices rise on grain.
Function #7: Grains can be milled into flour.
A large portion of grain gets milled into flour. The smaller pieces are ground into a fine powder when the hulls are removed. The process of milling doesn’t just apply to making flour. Milling is also done to make oats and rice. In the latter examples, this is done to reduce cooking time, improve palatability, and format certain food products, such as certain types of oatmeal.
Function #8: Grains are pressed into oil.
Certain grain is pressed down into an oil, such as wheat germ oil, rice bran oil, canola oil, etc. Of course, these grain-based oils are used in cooking but are also used as an ingredient in certain cosmetic and medical products. These are all-natural oils – some healthier than others – packed with fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
Function #9: Grains are used in cosmetic products.
In the cosmetic field, grain that has been pressed into oils, extracts, and flours is turned into a variety of skincare products. For example, corn, wheat, and oats have high ferulic acid content, an ingredient to help with moisture retention. The right grain can soothe the skin and act as a natural exfoliant due to the fibre content.
Function #10: Grains make non-toxic adhesives.
You may be surprised to learn that wheat starch is the main ingredient in non-toxic adhesives found on products such as postage stamps and wheat glue for crafts. There are so many extraordinarily diverse uses of grain just like this that most people would never connect to it. From window cleaners to Worcestershire sauce, types of paper and particleboard, car engine lubricants, rubbing alcohol, shampoo and conditioner, and yarn, these are some of the products that grain plays a dominant role in making.
Function #11: Grains are made into biofuel.
Certain types of grain are purposed to manufacture industrial products such as biofuel and biodiesel. Ethanol is one of the more popular biodiesel fuels made from corn. Biofuel is routinely cited as an eco-friendly fuel source and could be utilized for nations such as the United States with an interest in one day being self-sustaining as it relates to fuel.