Oats (Avena sativa) represent a major food source and, due to high nutritional values, are a staple food in a number of countries. Although oats have long been a part of the human diet, they are also used as animal feed (e.g., horses, chicken and other livestock), in cosmetics and as a winter cover crop in no-till rotations.
Like cocoa, coffee is a soft commodity. The primary source of caffeine around the world (besting teas, sodas and energy drinks), coffee is the second most sought-after commodity in the world – behind only crude oil – and it’s worth over $100 billion worldwide.
Silver mining began about 5,000 years ago in Anatolia (modern day Turkey). The metal quickly became the impetus for exploration and the discovery of new worlds as it was a sought-after measurement of wealth, and valued as money, jewelry and for decorative objects.
Lumber’s end products are some of the most widely used goods in the world. The lumber industry comprises two types of wood: softwood and hardwood. Softwood comes from trees whose seeds are protected by cones. Since softwoods are easy to saw and nail, they are the primary lumber used in construction.
Domestic wheat was first seen in southwest Asia in what is now called the Fertile Crescent. Archaeological evidence shows that wheat cultivation began at least 9.000 years ago in Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Armenia and Iraq. Today, wheat is one of the world’s most important agricultural commodities.
Copper has been used for thousands of years, and was the first metal to be used by humans. It’s similar to silver and gold in that it’s very ductile, malleable and is a good conductor of electricity. Unlike the precious metals, however, copper is relativelty inexpensive, making it attractive for numerous industrial applications, including wiring, plumbing, circuitry, generators, motors, vehicle radiators, and home heating and cooling systems.
Corn is one of the world’s most versatile and complex grains. While it’s generally thought of as a dietary staple, the market for corns extends beyond the dinner table: it’s also widely used as animal feed and in biofuels, sweeteners and other consumer products.
Consisting mostly of methane, natural gas is found alongside coal beds and other fossil fuels throughout the world. It’s used extensively throughout the U.S. to heat homes and generate electricity and has important applications in both commercial and industrial settings.
Cotton has been an important crop for numerous civilizations throughout history, and is believed to have been in use since prehistoric times. A perennial shrub, cotton’s fluffy fiber is spun and woven into yarn or textiles to be used in clothing and other household goods – everything from socks to bed sheets and towels.
Prior to 1945, orange juice was always freshly-squeezed – something that left the commercial orange juice industry susceptible to supply shocks due to the highly perishable nature of the juice. The invention of frozen concentrated orange juice (FCOJ) in 1945 – and the increase in home refrigerators – opened the gates to an international marketplace.