It is believed oats first were grown by ancient Slavic peoples during the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Oats were grown for grain in Europe and for animal feed in Asia Minor during the early Christian era. In central Europe, oats have been used for centuries. Oatmeal came to be an important food in areas with cool, moist climates suitable for growing oats, particularly Scotland. Today, oats are grown in practically every country in the world. Total world production has been about 2.5 billion bushels in recent years.