The gluten-free superfood that’s quickly becoming the new “it” grain.
These days everybody knows quinoa. The once obscure Andean grain started gaining traction in Western kitchens in the 1980s, exploding into ubiquity in the mid-2000s as a gluten-free superfood. In recognition of its health benefits—especially compared to other grains like wheat—and the boon that global demand has created for Bolivian and Peruvian farmers, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization declared 2013 “The International Year of the Quinoa.” But just a year after this crowning glory, quinoa may already have to step down as the world’s favorite cereal. There’s a new superfood grain gaining traction in kitchens worldwide that is in many respects healthier and more ethical than quinoa. It’s called teff.
Cultivated in Ethiopia and Eritrea for anywhere between three and six thousand years, teff is best known as the main ingredient in the Horn of Africa’s spongy, sour injera flatbread. But fermentation actually gives injera its signature flavor and texture, not teff itself, which on its own has a mild and nutty flavor. The poppy seed-sized grain, the world’s smallest, punches far above its weight nutritionally, providing up to two-thirds the protein and nutrients in a daily Ethiopian diet. It’s no wonder why they call teff Ethiopia’s second gift to the world (the first being coffee). As the teff harvest season approaches for 6.3 million Ethiopian farmers, it’s not hard to imagine that the grain will finally become a household name in 2014. Here are just 10 reasons why teff could overtake quinoa as the new “it” grain.