Millet History and Origin

Let’s talk millet!


Although Millet is common all over the world, it comes from Asia and Africa originally. There is evidence of its cultivation in Asia between 10,300 and 8,700 years ago. So, it was common in Asia even before rice! In fact, it is thought to be the earliest dry crop cultivated in East Asia. A 4000 year old bowl that contained noodles made from foxtail millet was discovered 2005 by archaeologists in northwestern China.


“Fan Shen Chih Shu,” written in 2800B.C lists millet as one of five sacred Chinese crops.


After its start, it spread all over the world and was even more prevalent than wheat in Europe during the middle ages.


So, millet is pretty old and pretty important!


There are many types (Over 6000!). It is fast growing and drought resistant which may be why it persisted so well.


Millet was commonplace enough that it was mentioned in the Old Testament and ancient Indian scripture called the Yajurveda. Like all whole grains, though, over time it lost some popularity and was replaced by refined flours and packaged foods.


Also, it diminished in popularity due to government policies favoring the more lucrative rice and wheat. India remained the largest producer of millet, but it dropped from 40 to 20% of their grain production. Some types of millet are endangered or have been eradicated all together.


Luckily, it’s making a comeback!


Millet is hardy and can last for ten to twelve years, so we haven’t totally killed it. Many people have discovered the issues with refined food diets and the nutrition deficiencies they cause. There is a general shift back to whole grains, so millet is picking up speed again.


It’s estimated that it sustains over a third of the world’s population! And it’s used differently all over the world. How will you use it?

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