Read full article By Seles Gupta @Nutrition Meets Food Science, PFNDAI Photo Credit: PFNDAI
Can one food be nutrient-dense, gluten-free, and at the same time, has the resilience to grow on poor quality soils and tolerate drought? It may sound too good to be true and feel like a hoax, but it is not. When you go for grocery shopping next time, just carefully look through the aisles in the kirana store and you’ll find these gorgeous grains called millets. And unlike other pricey pantry ingredients, they are quite affordable. Millet is a food item that is worth every penny and here’s why.
A brief Introduction to Millets
Millet is one big joint family of superhero small-seeded grains with ragi (Finger Millet), bajra (Pearl Millet), foxtail millet, little millet and kodo millet as few of its famous family members. They are nutritious, sustainable and affordable.
Millets are not new to India; they have always been part of our staple diet. From food items like samaipayasam, nachni roti and bajra ki khichdi to traditional alcoholic beverages like sur, madua, themsing and lohpan, the culinary tradition of adding millets in our meals is at least centuries old.
However, in spite of the centuries-spanning legacy, millet-based foods have now come to resemble a somewhat specific concept over the course of the last few years. When the green revolution started, the government promoted rice and wheat so heavily to the consumers that a lot of them ended up removing millets from their daily diets. But a few years ago, when Andhra Pradesh got exposed to severe drought, local farmers turned to millets. Because of the millets’ ability to grow on marginalised lands without irrigation and with little to no external inputs such as pesticides, farmers worked to revive its cultivation and bring it back into the market. It was millets that helped people to fight hunger and keep farmers debt-free. And now, it is not just farmers who are advocating for this grain. Millets’ drought-resistant and water-efficient qualities have also gained attention from various NGOs and activists in India. Today millet is not viewed as just another category in food; it is being seen as the solution to the food problems that arise with climate change.