History of Millets & Their Importance in the Modern World

There are treasures that have fed generations & kept civilizations going that are buried somewhere in the depths of human history. One such hidden treasure is millets, which are ancient cereals that have played a crucial role in the evolution of humans. Let us, as we travel through time, discover the history of millets along with how important they are in the modern world.

The History of Millets

History of Millets

Millets are one of the first crops humans have ever grown & farmed. Archaeological evidence shows that these tiny grains were first cultivated in Asia & Africa around 10,000 years ago, during the Neolithic Revolution. Ancient cultures such as the Harappan & Indus Valley had already adopted millets as staple foods. They were indispensable to early agricultural societies due to their resilience & ability to flourish in arid environments.

Millets' history begins with ancient cultivators who carefully selected & cultivated the most valuable seeds, eventually transforming wild grass into nutritious grains. These farmers relied on their intrinsic knowledge of the land, weather, & seasons to effectively produce millets. The expansion & growth of millet cultivation paralleled the emergence of early human settlements.

Declination of Millets

Despite their historical importance, millets declined throughout the Green Revolution & colonial period. Cash crops & sophisticated farming techniques took the spotlight away from millet. Rice & wheat grew increasingly popular, challenging millets to the margins. This change had devastating effects on the environment & human health. High yields & profitability drove farmers away from millet production. 

Rice & wheat offered the prospect of prosperity by introducing modern technology, chemical fertilizers, & hybrid seedlings. Nevertheless, this change had unintended effects. Environmental damage, soil erosion, & water contamination resulted from increasing chemical inputs.


Also Check This: History of Plant Based Meat 

 

The New Era of Millets

Millets are gaining popularity again due to their nutritional & environmental advantages. Millets are a source of optimism in the agricultural sector at a time when urbanization & climate change provide new challenges. They are a sustainable option for the future due to their resistance to adverse weather conditions & low water requirements. Recently, millets have been included in government nutrition programs to fight malnutrition & food poverty.

 

Millets & the Modern Diet

Millets in the modern diet have drawn attention in an age of lifestyle disorders & health consciousness. Millets are a healthy, sustainable food that fits the worldwide trend toward plant-based & whole-grain diets. The trends includes:

 

Sources of Key Nutrients:

  • Millets are nutritious powerhouses, not simply grains. They are rich in carbohydrates, protein, fiber, micronutrients, vitamins, & phytochemicals.
  • They provide between 320 & 370 kcal per 100 g of consumption.
  • They have a higher proportion of non-starchy polysaccharides & dietary fiber compared to staple cereals (rice, wheat, & maize).

 

Nutritional Benefits of Millets (for 100g of each millet)

Types of Millets

Protein (g)

Fiber (g)

Minerals (g)

Iron (mg)

Calcium (mg)

Sorghum

10

4

1.6

2.6

54

Pearl millet

10.6

1.3

2.3

16.9

38

Finger millet

7.3

3.6

2.7

3.9

344

Foxtail millet

12.3

8

3.3

2.8

31

Proso millet

12.5

2.2

1.9

0.8

14

Kodo millet

8.3

9

2.6

0.5

27

Little millet

7.7

7.6

1.5

9.3

17

Barnyard millet

11.2

10.1

4.4

15.2

11

Teff

13

8

0.85

7.6

180

Fonio

11

11.3

5.31

84.8

18

Brown top millet

11.5

12.5

4.2

0.65

0.01

Source: ICAR- Indian Institute of Millets Research Global Centre of Excellence on Millets (Shree Anna)

 

Addressing Modern Health Challenges:

Modern diets are heavy in refined sugars, unhealthy fats, & empty calories from processed foods. This has raised global obesity, diabetes, & heart disease rates. Millets, being whole cereals, provide a healthier & more natural solution to these health issues due to:

  • They with high fiber content provide diverse health benefits, including improved digestive health, blood lipid profile, & blood glucose release.
  • They are loaded with beneficial phytochemicals, including antioxidant-rich phytosterols, polyphenols, phytocyanins, lignins, and phytoestrogens which help protect against cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer as we age.
  • They have a low glycemic index, which slowly raises blood sugar levels. High-GI meals surge & crash blood sugar.
  • Many millet varieties are inherently gluten-free, making them a safe & nutritious option for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Check This: Types Of Millets 


Creativity in the Kitchen:

Millets in the current diet maintain flavor and diversity. In reality, famous chefs & amateur cooks are experimenting with millet-based recipes to create a broad range of delicious foods for varied palates. Some examples of millet-based food such as:

  • Millet Pizzas: Millet flour gives pizza dough a nutty flavor & boosts its healthiness. Millet pizzas with fresh veggies & healthy toppings are guilt-free.
  • Millet Burgers: Millet-based veggie burgers are gaining popularity among vegetarians & health-conscious people. These patties offer an exquisite blend of flavor, texture, & nutrition.
  • Breakfast bowls with millet porridge: Millet porridge is a delicious meal that may be topped with fruits, nuts, & seeds. It offers a nutritious & energizing beginning to the day.

 

Agricultural Sustainability & Biodiversity:


The cultivation of millet promotes sustainable agriculture. Millets, unlike monoculture cereals, promote biodiversity & a balanced ecosystem. They reduce environmental impact by using fewer pesticides & fertilizers. Millets also feed cattle, aiding rural economies & farmers.

Reviving millets is a step towards regenerative farming & restoring nature. By growing a variety of millets, farmers protect their livelihoods & can provide their contribution to fight climate change.

 

Conclusion

The revival of millets is a nostalgic return to the past & a strategic step towards a more sustainable & resilient future in current world. In modern era, governments (declared 2023 as an International Millet year), NGOs, & farmers are promoting millet planting & consumption. Additionally, millets' versatility in modern dishes shows their adaptation to many cuisines & tastes.

Sudo Foods also take the initiative towards a healthier & sustainable lifestyle by offering plant-based products such as


all of which are made with high-quality ingredients, without compromising of meaty flavor.

Eat right to get health. Join the movement towards sustainable & better eating with Sudo Foods.

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