Oats and Oatmeal

Jul 16, 2014 by

Oats and Oatmeal

This article was written by Phineas Upham

The cultivation of oats is a practice that dates back to 1,000 B.C. at least. Historians believe that oats were first grown and harvested in Central Europe, but the Greeks and Romans knew of them. According to Roman writings, oats were too coarse to be considered civilized food. Pliney specifically mentioned oat-based porridge made by the Germanic peoples. They were considered the fare of barbarians. Still, oats endured history and became an important source of food for developing civilizations.

It might surprise you to learn that oats likely originated as weeds in the fields of wheat and barley plants. These oats were probably harvested accidentally, but the Europeans continued the tradition in dedicated fields. For years, the English and the Scots would eat oat cakes. These cakes were made of oats cooked in salted water, often with a small serving of animal fat for flavor.

The Europeans introduced oats to the North Americans, where they were first planted off the coast of Massachusetts. Most of these early crops went almost exclusively to animals, but oats became a viable food source as more settlers arrived from Europe. Oats would be stirred into boiling water and thickened into a gruel. It was also baked into muffins and bread.

Oats were sold in bulk by 1877, and the Quaker Mill company was founded in 1901. You might have even found oatmeal stuffed into meatloaf as filler. It was a versatile crop that found uses in soups, cakes, cookies and wafers.

Phineas Upham

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phineas on his LinedIn page.

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