The following was originally written by Chuck Wasserstrom and published as a UTC News Release.
The premise that American wheat changed the balance of world power is the subject of a panel discussion being hosted by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Department of History on Friday, Oct. 21. The event, titled “What’s Grain Got To Do With It?” will begin at 7 p.m. in the Guerry Center Reading Room.
Open to the general public, the presentation is designed to explain the role of grain historically and present day.
The panel discussion was the idea of Bill Keener, the owner of Sequatchie Cove Farm—a diversified 300-acre farm located about 35 minutes northwest of downtown Chattanooga near the Cumberland Plateau. Sequatchie Cove Farm, a mainstay of the weekly Chattanooga Main Street Farmers Market, is one of the event’s co-sponsors.
Panelists coming to UTC include historian Scott Reynolds Nelson, Georgia Athletic Association Professor at the University of Georgia and author of the recently released “Oceans of Grain: How American Wheat Remade the World,” and Mike McLain, regional manager for King Arthur Baking Company.
In the early 19th century, Russia fed a large portion of Europe via the thriving port of Odessa, located on the Black Sea in Ukraine.
However, during the Civil War, quantities of American wheat started to stream across the Atlantic, resulting in a sharp decline in food prices in Europe. The development of Germany and Italy and the fall of the Habsburgs and the Ottoman Empire were all influenced by the cheap foreign grain—which played a significant role in the start of the Russian Revolution and World War I.
UTC associate lecturer Mark Johnson will moderate the discussion.
“We need this forum on grain right now because everything has a history,” Johnson said. “With the invasion of Ukraine, we know there’s a history there, but it goes so much further back than most people know.
“We need this story because cheap American grain changed the world. We need to eat; it’s absolutely necessary, but we don’t pay enough attention to how food affects politics, diplomacy and so much more.”
For more about the “What’s Grain Got To Do With It?” event, click here to read the UTC Newsroom story.
Location: The Guerry Center is located near the southeast corner of Chamberlain Field in the center of the UTC campus. Parking is available in the Lot 12/Lupton Hall parking garage (middle or lower levels); there is no charge after 5 p.m. on weekdays and weekends. In addition, free street parking is available after 6 p.m.