Saturday, March 02, 2013

Factoid of the day

ancient Romans who were poor ate bird seed: Millet

longer article on LiveScience.
Historical texts dismiss millet as animal feed or a famine food, Killgrove said, but the researcher's findings suggest that plenty of ordinary Romans depended on the easy-to-grow grain.

Millet at wikipedia discusses the various types. It is one of the crops that originated in Africa.

factsheet: the company selling it calls it America's supergrain,

  • Gluten-free – ideal for celiacs
  • Highly nutritious – ideal for children
  • Great energy source – ideal for athletes
  • Ideal for those with sensitivity to wheat or other grains that contain gluten.
  • Complete protein source when combined with legumes – ideal for a vegetarian diet

Beneficial Nutrients

  • 15% protein
  • High amounts of fiber
  • B-complex vitamins including niacin, folacin, thiamin, and riboflavin
  • High in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and potassium
  • Calcium & zinc
  • The essential amino acids methionine, lecithin, and some vitamin E.
  • Rich in photochemicals including phytic acid, which is believed to lower cholesterol, and phytate, which is associated with reducing cancer risks.
 the site includes recipes.

I know it is easy to grow: we always had a large crop growing under our bird feeder.

Purdue Univ has a page on it: 

when I lived in Zimbabwe, the major crop was corn, but most farmers grew millet as a backup crop, to eat if the rains weren't enough for the corn crop, and also to use in the local beer. We often instructed moms to grind it into porridge for young children, because it was more digestible and had more protein/vitamins than the maize porridge that was the usual staple for meals.

pdf on sorgham and millet crops in South Africa.

The problem is the lack of a market and the difficulty in harvesting/storing it.

Michael and Doria's Travel Tales describe how the locals brew beer.

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