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Any member of the grass family (Gramineae) which produced edible grains usable as food by humans and livestock. Common cereals are rice, wheat, barley, oats, maize (corn), sorghum, rye, and certain millets, with corn, rice, and wheat being the most important. Developed by scientists, triticale is a new cereal derived from crossing wheat and rye and then doubling the number of chromosomes in the hybrid. Occasionally, grains from other grasses (for example, teff) are used for food. Cereals provide more food for human consumption than any other crops.

Four general groups of foods are prepared from the cereal grains. (1) Baked products, made from flour or meal, include breads, pastries, pancakes, cookies, and cakes. (2) Milled grain products, made by removing the bran and usually the germ (or embryo of the seed), include polished rice, farina, wheat flour, cornmeal, hominy, corn grits, pearled barley, semolina (for macaroni products), prepared breakfast cereals, and soup, gravy, and other thickenings. (3) Beverages such as beer and whiskey, made from fermented grain products (distilled or undistilled) and from boiled, roasted grains. (4) Whole-grain products include rolled oats, brown rice, popcorn, shredded and puffed gains, and breakfast foods.

All cereal grains have high energy value, mainly from the starch fraction but also from the fat and protein. In general, the cereals are low in protein content, although oats and certain millets are exceptions. Grain crops

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From McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Environmental Science. The Content is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. The Work is © 2008 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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