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Teff - a new superfood or did I miss it?

" A superfood with style and substance." Outback Market

It comes from Ethiopia, is said to be the oldest grain, and is tiny - as small as a poppy seed. And it was just a tiny reference to it in yesterday's Woolworths magazine that drew my attention to it. At the end of a short list of grains that are gluten free was teff. Which I had never heard of, and so I determined to find out. I did and got all excited about this being the next big thing and then noticed some more small print and began to wonder.

In Ethiopia it is a major part of the diet, most commonly made into the national dish of injera - a fermented pancake like bread. It is believed that the name comes from the Ethiopian 'teffa' which means lost - because it is so small?

Different colours because the grain comes in different colours too. There are three shades from ivory to brown and as the colour darkens so does the taste intensify. the most common word I saw to describe the taste was nutty - or similar to quinoa - and you cook it the same way I believe. Although I have to say the finished product of cooking it into a kind of porridge does not look all that tempting.

"it floats first then it seems to absorb the water and turn in to, well mud? Yeah, it looks a bit like mud but don’t let this put you off." Workout with me anywhere

But it does put you off a bit doesn't it? How food looks is really important - particularly if you are trying to get children to eat it. I guess if you tried to imagine it as chocolate? But there's all those, probably, after cooking, glutinous little seeds. Those uncooked seeds can also be eaten raw of course sprinkled on things.

Fortunately it is also made into flour and then, of course, you can do a whole lot of other things.

Including for horses and other animals. The hay that is left after you have taken away the seeds is apparently amazingly good for your animals - particularly horses because it is low in sugar.

Nutritionally it is especially valuable for its gluten free properties, but it is amazingly rich in iron, calcium, the vitamin bs and fibre. According to Teff Tribe - an Australian company of two young men from Bondi:

"Teff is the smallest grain in the world – and the most nutritionally dense." Teff Tribe

Here is diagram that shows the benefits of teff from Outback harvest, the company founded by a couple of farmers in the Riverina, who were the first to grow the crop commercially in Australia.

The father and son team both grow and market teff under the label of Outback Harvest. They find it a really useful short season crop grown between their other winter and summer crops. Before they went commercial it had only been grown experimentally in Tasmania. Now I believe it is grown elsewhere in Australia but I do not know on how large a scale. And as is often the case with such crops the CSIRO was heavily involved in its development. It has been grown in the USA for some time and I think this is where they got most of the technical information. You can find all the agricultural information easily enough on the net.

So if it's so wonderful why isn't it on your supermarket shelf? Woolworths have a few products that contain it, but Coles has nothing.

So I started searching and you can indeed get it - with the Teff Tribe product or the Outback Harvest product, but mostly in Health Food shops, some IGA stores and some Woodland stores. There are around half a dozen outlets near Eltham, although not actually in Eltham which is a bit of a surprise in itself. There are at least two health food shops in Eltham, and Eltham is generally thought to be that kind of place. Health foodie I mean. And it's expensive. Of course. $15.00 for 600g of the flour. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw an article about Coles launching its own home brand brown teff grain for a mere $11.00 for 500g. So why didn't this come up on my Coles online search? Well I then noticed the date on the article - 2015. So I can only assume that this was not a success story and the product has been discontinued. Well at least they tried.

So I don't know where the market for teff is at, at the moment. Growing or declining? Ethiopian food is gradually coming into the Australian consciousness I would think. There are a few Ethiopian eateries in Melbourne now. It just needs one of those 'influencers' to push it really. If they push something it doesn't seem to matter how much it costs. Ironic isn't it that a food that is the staple food for a basically poverty stricken population in Ethiopia is a luxury item for the idle rich here.

The growing grain looks rather lovely though.

#grains #glutenfree


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