Will Ancient Grain Teff Be the Next Super Food?
Ethiopian staple seems to have the potential
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2014 9:39 AM CST
Flour, ground from teff seeds.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Get ready to hear a lot about an ancient grain from Ethiopia called teff, reports the Guardian, which suggests it's poised to take the place once held by quinoa as king of the "super grains." Teff seeds are nutrition bombs, high in calcium, iron, protein, and amino acids. They also happen to be naturally gluten-free and can sub in for wheat flour in pretty much everything. (Like pancakes.) The gluten-free market is booming in the west, and teff is showing up more and more in health-food shops and specialty markets, write Claire Provost and Elissa Jobson. But they suggest we haven't seen anything yet. (An earlier post at the Oregonian also predicts teff will be a hot commodity in 2014.)

The grain has long been a nutritional staple in Ethiopia, mostly in its injera bread. (Think "earthy flavor with a slight hazelnut taste," says StyleCaster.) And while it now accounts for 20% of the nation's agriculture, the government wants to double production by 2015. Of course, this raises the same kinds of ethical concerns that have plagued quinoa in South America: Ethiopia suffers from widespread malnutrition, and "careful planning is needed to make sure that business and export interests are not put ahead of domestic consumers and small farmers," says a post at SOS Children's Villages. "Otherwise, any teff boom could come at the expense of the poorest Ethiopians." (In other nutrition news, read how soda's caramel coloring might pose a danger.)

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Showing 3 of 16 comments
MisterPlinkett
Jan 27, 2014 12:18 AM CST
I just recently had injera for the first time. It was really good. I have since attempted to recreate it at home to lousy results. Those Ethiopians sure know how to make spongy bread.
FarmerMichael
Jan 26, 2014 1:13 AM CST
If they are comparing it to quinoa, when was the last time anyone commenting here had any of that? Super grain? I think not, even though it has been used for thousands of years. I'd bet on tarweed, a native food still harvested in Chile, but once very popular in Oregon before white folks showed up. Tasty. It was a weed in my garden until I asked the local Indians about it. There once were plantations of it from Eugene near Portland. Nutty flavor raw. But it doesn't like cultivation too well and becomes sticky leafed about harvest time.
TessTalks
Jan 25, 2014 10:41 PM CST
How long will it take Monsanto to claim they own teff and it can only be bought from them? It will just be another attempt in Monsanto's never ending quest to control the world's food supply.