What is commercial wheat?
Wheat is a loaded term, usually referring to the entire Triticum family.
Commercial wheat is a commodity. It is measured as a standardized, industrial product with a price that fluctuates based on global market dynamics. It is the world’s most traded crop.
Commercial wheat is high-yielding because it was adapted and refined to feed as many people as possible – with the fatal flaw of not actually nourishing them.
Commercial wheat = modern wheat?
Did commercial wheat tarnish the reputation of grains?
Yes and no. Commercial wheat is a descendant of einkorn, the oldest and purest Triticum of them all. It has been heavily modified to adapt to industrial and governmental demands. The intentions were probably good, but the consequences have been dismal to both people and planet.
Commercial wheat needs more water and chemical inputs to grow. And it has also started to make people sick, boosting the revival of ancient grains.
Why did commercial wheat become omnipresent?
Because it has been so brilliantly modified! It is a productive crop with a gluten content that is a very useful ingredient in processed foods.
Wheat is a grain, a carbohydrate that is an essential part of our nutritional pyramid. There is a lot of nuance to this though. See our glossary article on whole grains.
By the way, commercial wheat is also used as cheap animal feed.