Posts Tagged ‘ancient grains’

The International Year of Millets 2023. Rich in heritage, full of potential. #IYM2023

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2023 the International Year of Millets as an opportunity to raise awareness of the health and nutritional benefits of millets and their ability to grow in harsh, arid and changing climates.

So, what are millets?

Millets encompass a diverse group of small-grained dryland cereals including pearl, proso, foxtail, barnyard, little, kodo, browntop, finger and Guinea millets, as well as fonio, sorghum and teff. They were among the first plants to be domesticated and serve as a traditional staple crop for millions of farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. They are deeply rooted in Indigenous Peoples’ culture and traditions and help guarantee food security in areas where they are culturally relevant. Millets are the leading staple grains in India, and are commonly eaten in China, South America, Russia, and the Himalayas. Millets are used in everything from flatbreads to porridges, side dishes and desserts, and they can even be fermented and consumed as an alcoholic beverage. In addition, millets can be ground and used as flour or prepared as polenta in lieu of corn meal. 

Millets can be found in white, gray, yellow or red. Their flavor is enhanced by toasting the dry grains before cooking. When cooked, millets fluff up like rice and they are described as having a warm, buttery or nutty flavor. They pair well with mushrooms, herbs, warm spices, scallions and squash. To prepare millet, bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil and add 1 cup of grain. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. For a creamier texture, add more water.

In the United States, millets are more often found in birdseeds than on our tables, but they are making a comeback as demand for ancient grains and gluten free options continue to grow. Millets are sometimes referred to as “nutri-cereals” because of the nutrients they contain: dietary fiber, antioxidants, protein and minerals, including iron. They are naturally gluten free and have a low glycemic index.

To learn more about the International Year of Millets, watch this 1-minute promotional video:

If you have a favorite recipe for millets, please share in the comments below!

Written by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by Katie Schlagheck, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ottawa & Sandusky Counties


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. International Year of Millets 2023. https://www.fao.org/millets-2023/en

Oldways Whole Grains Council. Millet and Teff. https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/grain-month-calendar/millet-and-teff-%E2%80%93-november-grains-month

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