Teff- The Tiny Expensive Grain with Big Health Benefits

By Sophia Kassa, Programs Specialist for Addis Jemari
Guest blogger for Addis Jemari, Sophia comes to us from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and now lives in Raleigh, NC 

Teff is one of the tiniest and most ancient grains in the world. It originates in Ethiopia and has survived centuries without much hybridization. It comes with three color varieties: white, red, and dark brown. Most importantly, teff is super nutritious. One serving of teff has about six grams of protein. It is rich in unsaturated fat and fiber and stands out in its mineral content. One serving supplies 123 milligrams of bone-building calcium, the equivalent of a half-cup of cooked spinach. Teff is also loaded with iron and one cup of teff has 126 milligrams of magnesium.

Teff is the ingredient of injera, the staple food in Ethiopia. If they can afford it, Ethiopians eat injera two to three times a day. You don’t have to go to the market every day to buy teff. You go to the mill where they sell the teff grain, choose the color you want, and order for grinding. It is common for people to order 50 or 100 kilograms (110 or 220 pounds) at one time. One hundred kilograms could be enough for a family of three for approximately a month. The more family members there are, the more teff one must buy. After you get the flour home, you need to store it in a safe and tight container prepared especially for it. Keeping it tightly covered is important to maintain freshness.

It is common to bake injera every three or four days. Injera is baked in a circle shape, and the whole process of making it is one of the skills that girls in Ethiopia are very much required to learn from their moms or a mother figure. At the AJ Home, baking injera is one of the life skills taught to our girls.

Teff is the most expensive of Ethiopia’s grains, with white teff costing the most, followed by mixed and red teff respectively. For Ethiopians who can afford it, injera is a food they don’t want to miss from the table. Teff remains unaffordable for poorer households, and to compensate, they consume only the cheaper types of red teff, eat fewer teff-based meals each day, or simply switch to other foods. But getting injera every day will ensure consumers gain from its high profile, nutritious content. Stew or vegetables can accompany teff for a well-balanced meal.

At the AJ Home, we are determined to continue providing our girls nutritious and balanced diets, including teff. It is all made possible through the generous monthly donations from our Healthcare and Nutrition sponsors who give $42 a month. We are seeking additional champions to come alongside us and help us continue to offer nutritious and balanced diets daily to our girls, as prices of the vital teff grain continue to rise in Ethiopia. We need your support! Visit our website at http://addisjemari.org/sponsorship/ and become a Healthcare and Nutrition sponsor today! For the cost of just one meal out at a restaurant, you can make a real, life changing gift for our girls!


*Pictured is injera, which is made out of teff. This is a staple food in Ethiopian’s diets.

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