Farmers and bakers share a common destiny; one’s harvest is the other’s raw material. So, grain cultivation and bread developed in parallel.
The development of grain cultivation and bread go hand in hand, both technically and geographically, from the Mesopotamia region between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers to Egypt, but also – at a speed of one kilometre a year – across the Mediterranean, Greece, Italy, France, and over the Alps.
Throughout this journey, the soils and the climate changed. Naturally, the cultivated grains changed and, with them, the bread. In the undernourished, alkaline soil of the Middle East, it was predominantly barley that was sown, in the humid climate of Southeast Asia rice flourished, in Latin America maize, and in the fertile mud of the Nile in Egypt wheat. It was different north of the Alps, where bread was a necessary supplier of carbohydrates, but the harsh climate was not suitable for the cultivation of wheat. Oats and rye were already significantly more resistant, and soon became marks of Central European bread.
Barley, wheat, oats, rye, rice or maize – no matter which crop one speaks of, the story always starts with cultivation and harvesting. Until well into the 19th century, this back-breaking work was often performed by many European farmers as serfs. Suffering and misery were their constant companions; the productivity was so low that nine out of ten people were working in agriculture at that time. Still, they were only able to produce enough food for themselves and the remaining ten percent of the population. This changed only thanks to technical innovations – from the plough to artificial fertiliser. Today it takes just two farmers to provide for a hundred people. There is still a third group in this common destiny of bakers and farmers: all of us.