As you drive round the countryside, you are looking at England’s larder as this is where food production starts. At this time of year, the crops are changing as they start to get ready and will soon be harvested, usually, weather permitting in mid to late July, August and into September.
Something I feel very passionate about is teaching children where food comes from. It doesn’t just come from a packet!
Part 1 is crops!
Children love seeing combine harvesters in the field but what are they producing?
There are 3 cereal crops – wheat, barley and oats.
Barley – this is grown to make beer and whiskey as well as ovaltine and bourbon biscuits! Barley is also commonly used in animal feed. Whilst looking similar to wheat during a lot of the growing period, as harvest approaches it can be differentiated by a “spikey” appearance near the ear called the halm.
Racehorse fed on oats coming up the gallops with a beautiful view of Ryedale in the background where alot of cereals are grown
From wheat, flour is produced, which in turn is used to make bread, biscuits, cakes etc – all the nice but naughty things! Again, it is used in animal feed, whilst the straw is used for animal bedding and roof thatching. Wheat is also used as fuel. It is slightly shorter than barley and harvested slightly afterwards.
Oats are the main ingredients in porridge so if you love porridge, this is your crop! They are also used in biscuits and of course animal feed. Oats make racehorses go faster! (There are alot living in Ryedale)
Another crop many will be familiar with is Oil Seed Rape. This has those bright yellow flowers, many associate with hay fever! They are particularly attractive to bees and many bee keepers place their hives near the fields. The honey produced in these hives is particularly good for hay fever sufferers so do look out for local honey, particularly within 3 miles of your house. Rapeseed oil is great for cooking with multiple health benefits including being low in saturated fat. It is also used for fuel and in the pharmaceutical industry – make up and moisturisers etc.
British Agriculture has an important place in the economy and our lives. Next time you eat that piece of toast, sandwich or open the packet of biscuits, remember where it came from. And when you are in the traffic jam behind a tractor, definitely eat a biscuit…
Agricultural Shows help showcase this and explain further. We have 5 coming up in the next few weeks in the area:
Malton Show – 1st July Great Yorkshire Show – 10th – 12th July Driffield Show – 18th July Ryedale Show – 31st July Thornton le Dale Show – 12th August.