Photo of a rice paddy

Types of grains

Some of the grains that are grown on a large scale, for agricultural use.

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Scientific name: hordeum vulgare

Barley is a crop grown mainly for animal food, and for making malt that is turned into beer and whiskey.

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Photo of cobs of corn
Photo by R-z
Scientific name: zea mays

Corn, or maize, is a type of grass. It grows taller than an adult man. Its seeds grow in a cluster, known as an ear or cob of corn. Corn can be cooked and eaten by itself, or ground into flour.

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Photo of millet seed heads
Photo by Yi Chen

Millet is a general name given to a number of similar looking but unrelated grasses with small seeds that are used as animal food, or as human food. There are many different kinds of millet.

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Scientific name: avena sativa

Oats are a cereal crop grown mainly for turning into rolled oats and oatmeal for making porridge. It is also used as animal feed, particularly for horses.

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Photo of quinoa
Photo by Lisa Cyr
Scientific name: chenopodium quinoa

Quinoa is not a grass, but is grown as a cereal crop. It is more closely related to beets than wheat, and is a very good source of protein and nutrients. Quinoa seeds are usually eaten whole, cooked. The seeds have a bitter coating which needs to be removed before cooking.

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Scientific name: oryza sativa

Rice is the largest crop grown for food in the world. Most rice is grown in China and India. Rice is a type of grass that grows to about a metre high. Rice needs a lot of water to grow, and in countries like Australia that have a low rainfall people are calling for rice growing to stop.
Rice is usually eaten cooked plain, but can be prepared in a lot of different ways and served with lots of different foods. Rice can even be puffed, a little like popcorn.

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Photo of a rye crop
Photo by Wikipedia
Scientific name: secale cereale

Rye is a cereal very closely related to wheat. It is grown mainly to make flour from to make into rye bread. It is also used as animal feed and to make some kinds of whiskey.

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Photo of sorghum
Photo by Matt Lavin
Scientific name: sorghum bicolor

Sorghum is a type of grass that is grown for its seeds for food and also for fiber to make things from. It is grown mainly in Africa, and is used both for human and animal food. It can be popped like popcorn and can be made into couscous.

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Scientific name: genus: triticum

Wheat is a grass grown worldwide for its seeds. It is the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice.
The wheat seeds are ground up into flour and then the flour is used to make bread, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereal and pasta.

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