The Clerk in the Counry

Friday 27th May 2022

Tonnes and tablespoons

I was interested to read recently about a project encouraging the cultivation of einkorn wheat in urban allotments, gardens and even window boxes with the aims of maintaining this heritage cereal variety and giving the public an insight into farming and food production.  What would not result, I fear, is very much bread.  I imagine the flour yielded by a window box of wheat could be measured with a spoon; enough perhaps for one very small bread roll per annum.

At the other extreme I also came across some figures for global wheat exports.  As we are all now well aware, in normal times Ukraine produces 10 million tonnes for its overseas markets, but this makes it only the seventh largest exporter of wheat, behind Russia (39 million tonnes), the EU, Australia, Canada, the USA and Argentina.  The UK exports very little wheat, with most of our crop being used for our own needs and making us more or less self-sufficient in bread.  The 14 million tonnes we might grow in a good year will make a lot of loaves.

Pasta lovers will be disappointed to learn that none of this will end up in their favourite dishes.  Our climate does not suit durum wheat, although I dare say it might be possible to grow some in a tub in a conservatory, should anyone wish to produce a strand of spaghetti.