Cereal referrers to cultivated members of the grass family used as food, specifically the seeds.
Cereals are staple foods throughout much of the world.
Because different types of cereal do better according to the climate and other factors, different cultures use different cereals as staples, for entirely practical reasons.
In the third world, many people subsist on cereals, especially rice, wheat and maize. In developed countries where incomes are much higher,our consumption of cereals appear to be lower. In fact, cereal consumption is much higher than we realize due to a high consumption of meat. These animals are generally fed cereal, especially corn.
Cereals generally lack lysine, and essential amino acid. Vegetarians must complement cereals with legumes such as lentils, beans and peanuts to supply this amino acid. Legumes lack methionine, an essential amino acid supplied by cereals. Rice and dal, corn with beans and peanut butter sandwiches are common combinations of legumes and cereals in various cultures.
Here is a list of common cereals from throughout the world:
- Wheat *
- Barley *
- Rye *
- Oats *
- Spelt *
- Einkorn *
- Emmer *
- Durum *
- Maize (Corn in North America)
- Triticale (wheat – rye hybrid)
- Wild Rice
* Note that cereals marked with an asterisk are gluten-containing grains. Avoid if you have a gluten allergy or are celiac. Other cereals contain glutens, but they are significantly different and do not affect people with celiac disease or those allergic to the gluten in wheat, barley, rye and oats. Even the gluten in oats is considered to be different enough from wheat gluten to be safe for celiacs, although this point is debatable.
The meaning of corn varies according to geography.
In the UK, it means the “chief cereal crop of a district.” In England, this means wheat, in Scotland it means oats.
In Canada and the USA, corn means maize.
When reading ingredients, those with a gluten allergy or celiac are safe with corn only if the packaging is intended for the North American market. If not, watch out!