“A forgotten ancient grain that could help Africa prosper.”
Ooooh, sounds cool. Download.
I was looking for podcasts for a trip, and the mystery and promise of the title of this TED Talk, given by Pierre Thiam, caught my interest. It did not disappoint. A package of this “miracle grain,” Fonio, now has a home in my pantry. Here’s why.
Fonio Is Nutritious
Acording to the Thiam, Fonio, which has been cultivated in Africa for thousands of years, contains important amino acids that are deficient in other grains. I looked this up and found that, while the protein content of fonio is not extremely high, the quality of that protein is very good, (comparable to egg protein) because of the high levels of the amino acids methionine and cysteine. These amino acids in particular are very important for the body, according to this study.
Whole-grain fonio is also reported to have a high energy value and high levels of fiber (which aids in digestion) when compared with other grains, such as rice. The high fiber levels combine with a low calorie content, meaning the body slowly absorbs the grain and you don’t get any blood sugar spikes.
I’m not a nutritionist (huge disclaimer here) but the evidence seems promising that fonio would make a good addition to your pantry.
Fonio Cultivation Could Help Solve Africa’s Migration Crisis
According to Thiam, food scarcity and low job opportunities have caused many to leave Sub Saharan Africa on the dangerous route to Europe, particularly out of his native Senegal. Thiam believes that fonio could be the answer to this crisis. Fonio cultivation requires little water and it can thrive in poor soil where other crops cannot; these factors make it an ideal crop for both the dry and upland areas of West Africa. According to Thiam, the mindset that “what comes from the West is best” has caused many in Africa to prefer western grains to their traditional fonio. This report, for example, does not include fonio as a common export of West Africa, even though it is apparently an ideal crop for that area.
Perhaps if fonio became popular, not just in Africa but globally as well, it could provide an industry to countries that so desperately need jobs and food.
The Seed of the Universe and Your Pantry
(It’s called that I promise.)
All of the above struck me as good reason to purchase some fonio for myself. I found this brand, which I chose for their apparent commitment to work with the men and women of Benin to reach economic and environmental strength. Fonio is also available on Amazon, but I chose to work directly with the smaller company, and was super pleased with the customer service.
Yes, you will find that fonio is insanely expensive. My rationale went like this: I normally spend up to $2 per pound for a grain, so the extra $14 goes to support my global brothers and sisters as they work to support themselves and their families. Totally worth it.
Cooking with the Seed of the Universe
I really like calling it “the seed of the universe.”
What’s for supper? The seed of the universe.
Anyways, I am new to cooking with the seed, but I find it super easy. It cooks quickly and provides a nice base for other flavors and textures. I like these two recipes:
And here are a few more I want to try…
Let me know what you think!! Are you going to try the seed of the universe? If you already have, tell me how you like to use it!