There are about 140 species in the Vicia genus, including common vetch and broad beans. Vicia ervilia, the bitter vetch, is thought to be the earliest crop plant, grown in the fertile crescent of the Near East about 7500 BC. The broad bean, Vicia Faba, was domesticated about 5000 BC.
Bitter vetch was grown as a crop until about 1450
and was used as a fodder crop for animals. In times of scarcity, the
seeds were milled as flour and used to make bread. Common vetch,
Vicia sativa was also grown as a fodder crop.
Common vetch and bitter vetch contain a chemical that acts as an appetite suppressant. If used in bread, it would remove the sensation of hunger in humans. In large quantities it would have a toxic effect due to the chemical Canavanine. This effect is not seen in Ruminants like cows and sheep, but horses are affected by this toxin.
Vetch has not been used as a food crop since the early 18th century.