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The term wholemeal, denoting flour made from the entire cereal grain (in practice usually wheat), with no element removed during the production process, dates back at least to the early seventeenth century (‘Bread is also wont to be made of the whole meal, from which the bran is not separated,’ Tobias Venner, Via Recta ad Vitam Longam, 1620), and is recorded sporadically from later centuries (‘a nice half griddle of whole-meal bread,’ Thomas Keightley, Fairy Mythology, 1828). But it was not really until the end of the nineteenth century that an awakening interest in ‘natural’ foods firmly established it in the language. The parallel wholewheat (which refers of course only to wheat flour) dates from the same period, around the turn of the twentieth century.

Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.

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