So, why eat teff? As above, teff is another gluten-free grain, making it safe to eat for those of us with coeliac disease or a gluten sensitivity. It has a mild, nutty flavour, and can thrive even in harsh climates, a possible win for Australian farmers who would like to try growing it. Teff is not just a filler food, like white wheat bread, either. Among other essential amino acids, teff is an excellent source of lysine, where most other grains have a low lysine content. As for minerals, teff is rich in potassium, calcium and iron, and is also an unusual grain in the case of its vitamin C content. And unlike conventional, super-processed gluten-free bread, teff is high in resistant starch and has a low glycaemic index (GI).
|Injera, a traditional bread made from teff. |
Source: Maurice Chedel
But are we stealing food from impoverished African families? Several years ago, a similar story about quinoa circulated, shaming anyone who dared to eat quinoa and simultaneously exist in a wealthy nation. But the truth is much more positive and nuanced: farmers usually do set aside some of their quinoa harvest for personal use; and higher prices have led to greater economic, and therefore social, power for these farmers. So many are now diversifying their diets to include more vegetables and meat, and an exit from extreme poverty means an ability to protest for economic and environmental rights. Going back to "staying in your lane" and feeling sorry for rural South Americans could send them back into poverty and powerlessness. And chances are, the growing popularity of teff will have the same benefits as that of quinoa.