Fonio’s popularity grows

The food cooperative where I frequently shop always has something new and interesting for me to try. Unlike the big chains, the small store can easily bring in a new product for patrons to sample without making a big commitment. This is where I first found fresh passionfruit in Minnesota, and the produce aisle is filled with other exotic seasonal fruits and vegetables.

A couple of weeks ago it wasn’t the produce aisle that caught my attention, it was a pouch located in the flours and grains area: fonio. This ancient grain that hails from Africa is starting to become more well known in the US, Europe, and beyond. Senegalese chef, author, and culinary activist, Pierre Thiam is one of fonio’s biggest cheerleaders, and he hopes to grow the reach of this climate-friendly grain.

Fonio possesses a number of benefits, as it is gluten-free, rich in iron and amino acids, can grow in nutrient-poor soil, and requires very little water. Thiam (who has written several cookbooks on West African food), extols its many virtues and believes that fonio can elevate the status of his home continent: “Africa is a breadbasket. It has 60% of the world’s arable land. People often believe that this is a continent that needs aid, that requires help. Africa can help the world; it can feed the world. Fonio is symbolic of this.”

The number of fonio recipes in the EYB Library is small but growing, and over half of these are available online for you to try without buying a cookbook. Here are a few that caught my attention:

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  • maestra  on  September 18, 2022

    This week I’ll be making Baked Fonio and Kale Balls from Bryant Terry’s excellent book Vegetable Kingdom. So far I’ve only eaten fonio as a porridge, so looking forward to something new.

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