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
Will Ancient Grain Teff Be the Next Super Food?
Flour, ground from teff seeds.   (Shutterstock)

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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