What the Teff?

An ancient grain takes hold in Southern Idaho.

by James Patrick Kelly

Wayne Carlson became enamored with the tiny teff grain while living in Ethiopia and working on a project to prevent waterborne diseases in the 1970s. He said that everyone he met in the country ate injera–a spongy, crepe-like bread made from teff flour–with almost every meal.

“That’s about the only way they eat it over there, this delicious and nutritious flatbread,” he said.

Carlson was the first person to introduce the idea of growing teff in the United States, around 1981, and now his Nampa-based Teff Company works with about 30 diversified farmers in Idaho who sell their grain to the domestic market for human consumption and livestock forage.

“I’ve spent a lot of time evangelizing it in the last 30 years. Teff is a fairly unknown crop in this part of the world, but it’s starting to catch on,” said Carlson, whose company sells whole-grain and flour products. read more