Quinoa has been the most talked-about grain in health-centered communities for far too long. In fact, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization declared 2013 as “The Year Of The Quinoa.”
Although the quinoa boom has provided a healthy alternative to wheat for Celiacs, it’s time for the super grain to share the limelight with a powerful newcomer: teff.
Teff is the bread and butter for many people in Ethiopia and Eritrea. It provides 2/3 of the daily protein and all the nutrients their communities need. It’s a powerful grain because it’s also creating countless job opportunities. As a matter of fact, harvest puts 6.3 million Ethiopian farmers to work.
Here’s a few reasons why you should add teff to your pantry:
1. Teff is gluten–free.
There are approximately 3 million Americans living with celiac’s disease. 18 million more suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity(1). Teff is a great alternative to gluten-laced grains like wheat. Teff bread is so wonderfully nutty and spongy that even your gluten-tolerant friends will want a bite!
2. Food with a Purpose
The Ethiopian government has restricted the exportation of teff in order to maintain food security for their people(2). This means that teff is not being mass-produced by large companies but rather hand-picked by local farmers and their families. By eating teff, you are supporting the Ethiopian economy and helping families work towards a better life.
Teff is a true superfood. It has more calcium than any other grain and contains 8 crucial amino acids. It’s also full of protein and iron, as well as being low in sodium, bad fats and cholesterol. Better yet Teff has more calcium, vitamin K, dietary fiber, iron, copper, manganese, thiamine and zinc than quinoa!
4. Quality Carbs
Resistant starch makes up most of the carbohydrates in teff, which makes it great for managing blood sugar, controlling weight and keeping the colon healthy. In contrast, the carbs found in quinoa are simple starch and insoluble fiber.
5. Rare Protein
Albumins are the main protein found in blood plasma. It’s most commonly found in eggs, which is unfortunate for vegans. Luckily, teff is a strong vegetal source of this protein.
Teff is a creativity-friendly grain because it can be used in so many different ways. Try it in breads, cereals, flours or snack bars.
7. Easy To Grow
Teff has been thriving in Australia, India, the Netherlands and in the United States. This means that demand and production will be easy to manage as the grain gains popularity. In fact, the Unites States research council declared in 1996 that teff could be the perfect grain for sustainable rural development throughout the world. In contrast, quinoa has been increasingly exported in the last 30 years but remains harvested in Peru and Bolivia almost exclusively because of the strict growing environment it needs(3).
8. Efficient Crop
This grain is a true survivor. It can thrive in extreme altitude and extreme growing conditions. A single pound of seeds can grow an entire acre of the grain. It only takes 36 hours to sprout and can be harvested 12 weeks after it’s been sowed.
Ethiopian farmers have developed a way to double teff production for the same land size(4). This puts less strain on the land and resources.
10. Rotation- friendly
Teff is a great rotation crop with legumes. This means that the land can be used over and over again to grow profitable crops without depleting the soil of all its rich nutrients. It also produces a straw byproduct that can be used in construction.