Saturday, January 12, 2019

History of oats in North America

Oats were cultivated in Switzerland and Northern Europe by 2500 BC, and two millennia later they were widely cultivated in Europe by the ancient Roman, Germans and Celts.

Oats were introduced by the Spanish into the southern part of North America and into the northern part of the continent by the English and North Europeans. Oats were first brought to North America by early explorers such as Captain Bartholomew Gosnold with other grains in 1602 and planted on the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts.

The Dutch grew oats in New Netherland by 1626 and oats were cultivated in Virginia prior to 1648. Oats were generally grown throughout colonial America mainly for animal feed but Scottish, Dutch and other immigrants used them in their traditional porridges, puddings, and baked goods.

As early as 1786, George Washington sowed 580 acres to oats. By the 1860s and 1870s, the westward shift of oat acreage in the United States had moved into the middle and upper Mississippi Valley, which is its major area of production today.

Most oats grown in North America today descend from Russian, Swedish and Greek ancestors. Oats were not widely consumed in North America until the late 19th and early 20th century when the health benefits of oats were more widely understood, due in part to the efforts of physician like Dr. John Kellogg.
History of oats in North America
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