Wheat is one of the key elements to understanding Sicily. For millennia, wheat was Sicily’s main agricultural product and economic engine. The Greeks cultivated grain from the time they arrived on the island 700 years before the Common Era. Demeter, goddess of grain and the harvest, was central to eastern Sicilians’ religion because of her role supporting their livelihood. Wheat is the reason the Romans took Sicily for their first colony in the late 3rd century BCE: they needed to feed their citizens and their military. For 600 years, Rome demanded grain cultivation. They cleared Sicily’s forests and employed (more accurately, enslaved) Sicily’s population of Greek-speaking farmers, cargo movers, and port workers to satisfy the requirements of the Roman Empire.
A short blog post cannot truly explain wheat’s importance (A dissertation could!); however, I wanted to bring it to your attention, because to understand Sicily, you must recognize the great significance of wheat and grain cultivation.