Did you know agriculture was a startup with 8 founders?

A picture showing wheat crops

Agriculture is rooted back to approx. 11,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent* with only eight founder crops: three cereals (einkorn wheat, emmer wheat, and barley), four legumes (lentil, pea, chickpea, and bitter vetch); and linseed [1]. Similarly, the earliest domesticated fruit (figs) is reported to date back to 11,400 years ago [2]. Olive trees are thought to be first domesticated 6,000 years ago [3].

Since then, continuous progress in agricultural practices, plant breeding and crop protection tools has helped societies prosper. Take wheat for example: it’s in your bread, pasta, cookies, and fermented beverages like vodka and whiskey. It's also an important raw material in animal feed and meat production. Wheat is the largest cereal consumed in Europe and contributes to 20% of the total dietary calories and proteins worldwide [4].

* Today’s southern Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Turkey & Iran

A graphic which shows the per capita consumption of different cereals

Per capita consumption of cereals by commodity type, daily kilocalories, European Union, 1961 to 2013

[1] The Eight Founder Crops and the Origins of Agriculture (
[2] Kislev et al. Early domesticated fig in the Jordan Valley. Science. 2006, 2; 312 (5778):1 372-4.
[3] Archaeology of Olive Domestication (
[4] Shiferaw et al. Crops that feed the world 10. Past successes and future challenges to the role played by wheat in global food security. Food Sec. (2013).