Abstract: Wheat is one of the earliest crops humans used and domesticated in order to advance as early agricultural farmers. It was already an important crop when history was first being recorded, so highly accurate information on its date of origin and original naming is not available. We do know that it has been one of the most widely used and depended upon staple crops since man first began to domesticate food in their transition from nomadic hunter/gathers to settled farmers. Since then, wheat has been used all around the globe, impacting economics, religion and many different aspects of society. It can be argued as one of, if not the most influential crop in human history. Introduction: There are many different varieties of wheat, but we will be focusing on common wheat. This specific type of wheat is so important due to its high gluten content and its wide range of climates in which it can be grown. It is used in the making of pasta, cereals, and especially bread making. For this reason, it is often referred to as bread wheat. The scientific name for this species of wheat is known as Triticum aestivum L. It is classified into the Plantae Kingdom, the Monilophyta Phylum, the Liliopsida Class, and the Poaceae Family (USDA, 2017). Since it grows best in climates also suitable for humans, it is immensely popular around the world. Generally, between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit is best suitable for high yields of bread wheat. It also needs plenty of sun light and water (35%-45% by weight) in order to successfully germinate. These conditions are not unrealistic and are the reason approximately 95% of all wheat grown worldwide is bread wheat (Shewry 2009). Without this valuable crop, life as we know it around the globe would be immensely different. Origin and Domestication: Scientists best approximation on the approximate date of origin of wheat was about 10,000 years ago during the Neolithic revolution. This was a time of global change in human lifestyle from a hunter and gatherer lifestyle of nomadic survival, to the huge advancement of agricultural development and the cultivation and domestication of specific crops that were of direct benefit to humans. For the first time, as opposed to natural selection of species that survived in nature, artificial selection began to occur. Early humans began to seek out and select specific types of crops that benefited their needs and began to plant the seeds of these plants and cared for them as opposed to that natural survival and growth of the crops (Weisdorf 2005). This forever changed the natural growth of wild plants around the world. The plants and crops that normally would have survived would have been the ones that had features and traits that would have allowed them to survive on their own. These traits could be anything from predator or consumer repellent, nutrient absorption or weathering and erosion protection. Now the species of crops that would survive would be the ones that produced excessive amounts of consumable features, were easy to cultivate and lacked any parts that would hinder the functionality for humans. Two of the most important traits passed down were the increase in grain size and the development of the non-shattering seed. The benefits of the large grain size have helped to ensure the successful germination and growth of seedlings in fields cultivated by humans as opposed to naturally occurring fields. The development of the non-shattering seed was even more beneficial to humans due to the fact that it prevents natural seed dispersal and allows humans the opportunity collect and harvest the seed with optimal timing for use in human consumption (Eckardt 2010). After humans discovered not only all the positive uses of wheat but also how easy it was to grow and cultivate, it was used for the remainder of history and the methods of growing and cultivating became much smoother. Parts Used: Not every single part of the plant is usable as food. The main portions of the plant that are used are the wheat bran, the wheat germ and the endosperm. Parts like the roots and stalks are not of nutritional value but are still utilized. Farmers use these parts for straw in use of hay bails and animal feed. But generally, the processing of wheat is used mainly to extract the bran, germ and endosperm. The bran is essentially the hard outer covering of the wheat kernel. The germ is the nutrient rich wheat embryo that would eventually sprout and grow into a new plant. The endosperms are the starchy insides of the kernel. The endosperms are also the largest part of the kernel and makes up about 83% of the entire kernel, and is filled with nutrients that the germ would use for food (fig 1). All parts have different benefits to humans as well. For example, the bran is immensely high in fiber as well as vitamins B6 and E but is not the tastiest part of the plant. Some Studies have also shown that wheat bran may have a beneficial effect on the prevention of certain diseases, including some cancers (in particular colorectal cancer), CVD, obesity and some gastrointestinal diseases, including diverticular disease, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (Stevenson, Phillips, O’sullivan, Walton 2012). The wheat germ takes up about 2.5–3.8% of total seed weight and is an important part of the wheat. Although often overlooked as simply a biproduct of flour processing, the germ contains lipids (healthy fats), proteins, sugars, fiber and minerals such as magnesium, calcium and zinc (Hidalgo 2011). The endosperm is the main nutrients part of the seed that is often separated from the other parts and processed into white flour. This is the starchiest part of the wheat and the main reason it has been so useful in bread making throughout history. But separating the three main parts is not always necessary. Simply grinding the whole kernels with the bran and germ still intact is the way whole wheat flour is made. Although usually tougher and more dense, whole wheat foods are much healthier due to the added nutrients and fiber from the bran and germ. Method of Harvesting/ Processing: Harvesting of the wheat has typically been the most labor-intensive part of the cultivating. Though traditionally done with a sickle, scythe or a reaper, the harvesting process has been altered dramatically with the advancement of technology. Though the method of harvesting by hand with these tools is still used today in some parts of the world, most crop harvesting done in the united states is done with large tractors. When done by hand, the process can be very time consuming and laborious. First a person uses a very sharp tool. A scythe is a very long handled tool with a large curved blade on the end that is used with 2 hands. This type of tool is good for long wheat stalks. A sickle is much shorter and used with only one hand on short stalked wheat. After using the tool to cut down a group of wheat stalks, the wheat is tied and bundled into groups called sheaves. Usually the bundling process is done by a second person following the cutter. The sheaves are then collected and stacked into piles called stooks. They resemble native American teepees. Stooks are carefully created in the fields so the wheat can continue to dry. The wheat loses water weight as it dries, and will store longer and better if it is the proper moisture content before it is stored or processed (Fig 2). These stooks allow air to circulate around the wheat heads, quickly drying the wheat. In an industrial farming situation, none of this would take place. The entire process is done with one swoop by a tractor which combines all of the steps, including threshing and winnowing, all at once by the machine. In the machine, the wheat sheaves are fed into the thresher which beats the wheat from the wheat heads. Winnowing takes the wheat and separates it from the unusable husk that surrounds it. Once the wheat is removed it can begin being processed into its edible parts (Pawar, Shirsat, Pathak 2008). The wheat is processed and separated to increase its shelf life. In its separate forms (bran, germ and endosperm) it can be packaged and stored for a very long time without going bad. In ancient times, this process was mostly skipped, and the wheat was simply washed, ground into a fine powder and used in bread making. Since around the 1800’s, machines were used to help process the wheat. Before wheat can be ground into flour it must be free of foreign matter. This requires several different cleaning processes. At each step of purification, the wheat is inspected and purified again if necessary. The first device used to purify wheat is known as a separator. This machine passes the wheat over a series of metal screens. The wheat and other small particles pass through the screen while large objects such as sticks, and rocks are removed. The wheat next passes through an aspirator. This device works like a vacuum cleaner. The aspirator sucks up foreign matter which is lighter than the wheat and removes it. Other foreign objects are removed in several ways. One device, known as a disk separator, moves the wheat over a series of disks with indentations that collect objects the size of a grain of wheat. Smaller or larger objects pass over the disks and are removed. Other methods used to purify wheat include magnets to remove small pieces of metal and scourers to scrape off dirt and hair. In more modern times, electronic color sorting machines are used to remove material which is not the same color as wheat. The next step is preparing the wheat for grinding. The moisture content of the wheat must now be controlled to allow the outer layer of bran to be removed efficiently during grinding. Usually this involves adding, rather than removing, moisture as it is much easier to add moisture to overly dried kernels due to the fact that large amounts of dried wheat will last mush longer than moist wheat kernels. When grinding the wheat, it moves between two large metal rollers known as breaker rolls. These rollers are of two varied sizes and move at different speeds. They also contain spiral grooves which crack open the grains of wheat and begin to separate the interior of the wheat from the outer layer of bran. The product of the breaker rolls passes through metal sieves to separate it. The material now resembles a coarse flour and is known as middlings. Middlings are ground into flour by pairs of large, smooth metal rollers. Each time the flour is ground it passes through sieves to separate it into flours of different fineness. These sieves are made of metal wire when the flour is coarse, but are made of nylon or silk when the flour is fine. By sifting, separating, and regrinding the flour, several different grades of flour are produced at the same time. At this point the flour can be altered and changed in order to accommodate whatever needs it must fulfil. currently, vitamins and minerals are added by law in order to produce enriched flour and leavening agents and salt can be added in order to make self-rising flour (Sokolov 1994). Marketing/Trade: When it comes to the marketing and trading of wheat, most all of it is used in bread making and the making and distribution of bread flour. There are however a series of other uses as well. For example, wheat bran is a widely sought-after commodity in terms of breakfast cereals, and wheat germ is used in a variety of places in food and ca be used as a more beneficial substitute for bread crumbs in many recipes as well as a topping for yogurt and other foods. With all of these, the production and distribution of wheat is a very important topic in terms of global trade. As many nations may lack the available resources, climate or soil conditions to produce proper bread wheat, it is a common import. Until recently, the U.S. was the worlds top exporter of wheat since the late 1800’s, when properly documented data on actual import and export data began to be recorded (O’Connor 1970). But as of very recently, Russia has quickly become the worlds top supplier of wheat exports. Currently as of 2017/2018, Russian wheat and barley exports account for one fifth of global trade. Russia’s ability to export has been assisted by beneficial exchange rates and low prices, compared to other traditional wheat and barley exporters. Another key advantage is their close proximity to rapidly growing markets in the Middle East and North Africa. This is immensely shocking because as early as the 200’s, Russia was a net grain importer. Even as its wheat production began to grow, its ability to be an exporter was uncertain. But, as of recent years production has expanded rapidly with much higher yields. Due to the new surplus of production, the government is now supplying a much more supportive system for exports (USDA 2018). In Religion:The impact wheat had on religion was seen across multiple religions. from classical times, depictions of bread and wheat-ears were always religious symbols of life born, reborn, sustained and protected by divine figures such as Osiris, Demeter, Ceres or Christ. It was also seen in many renaissance paintings of the virgin Mary from the catholic religion. She was often depicted dressed in a gown or robes that were decorated with ears of wheat (Bjornstad 2016) (fig 3). In the catholic religion especially, bread is a major symbol used over and over again. Even the term “breaking bread” was originated from the bible signifying sharing of bread with those around you, but the term has stuck around and now simply means to share what you have or share time with those close to you. It was also important in the catholic religion in terms of the symbolic consumption of the Eucharist, which is small pieces of bread meant to symbolize the body of Christ that is shared to all as a way of allowing Christ into the body (Kramer-Rolls 2007). Besides Christianity and Catholicism, bread and wheat have always played a role in different religions. Due to the fact that many religions were simply a way for early humans to help explain their world around them, it was believed that deities controlled events around them such as weather, wildlife and even the crop growing season. Thus, many deities were worshiped as gods of harvest as to ensure a good growing season. Harmful Effects/ Issues:Although wheat is an immensely beneficial crop that offers many vitamins and nutrients, there is a severe medical issue that arise. This is known as Celiac Disease and Non-celiac gluten sensitivity. These disorders are essentially immune related reactions to wheat and in some cases specifically gluten. Once believed to be relatively rare, particularly in the US, it is now thought that gluten-related disorders affect nearly 10% of the population. Each gluten-related disorder exhibits a unique response to gluten ingestion. Some of the symptoms of celiac disease include pain in abdomen or joints, burning in chest, indigestion, diarrhea, fat in stool, nausea/vomiting, bone loss, fatigue and development of lactose intolerance. These symptoms range from minor inconveniences to sever issues that can affect overall health and well-being. But non-celiac gluten sensitivity symptoms can be very different. Many of the symptoms are similar to celiac disease such as abdominal pain, bone and joint pain and diarrhea. But NCGS is different in the fact that it can also produce symptoms like depression, ADHD like behavior and “foggy mind” and when tested medically the patient will test negative for celiac disease. For these reasons both celiac disease and NCGS have become increasingly difficult to diagnose early on and often can be mistaken for other issues. When this occurs, the patient will not know that it is simply their diet that is causing these issues. One of the easiest ways to diagnose a wheat allergy related disease is to simply stop eating wheat products and see if the symptoms subside. These diseases are often genetic and passed down from parents. Sadly, not many treatments are available except for having a strict gluten free diet in order to ensure there are no issues. It is undeniable that gluten-related disorders are increasing in the US. Despite the improvement in diagnostic testing techniques for celiac wheat related diseases it is still difficult to distinguish gluten-related disorders. There are also an increased group of patients that complaints related to gluten ingestion that test negative for any wheat related allergies (Leonard 2014). This group, along with a considerable number of people who feel gluten free is healthier are contributing to the increased demand for the gluten free food market. This can be seen in many new gluten free restaurants and restaurants serving many gluten free options or having a separate gluten free menu.