Get to Know a Gluten-Free Grain: Millet

Next on our gluten-free ingredient list is millet. Millet is one of the oldest gluten-free grains cultivated by humans, making its first appearance in East Asia over 10,000 years ago. The term millet refers generally to small-seeded grasses, rather than a specific species or genus. Millets are traditionally very robust, making them ideal for harsh, dry climates, though they require warm weather for germination.

Millet comes in many forms, the most common of which are the following:

  1. Pearl: Grown in Africa and India, pearl millet is the most common form of millet, accounting for over 50% of worldwide production.
  2. Foxtail: This is the second most common form of millet and is particularly important in East Asia.
  3. Proso: This millet is grown around the world and most of the US production goes into birdseed.
  4. Finger: Finger millet is particularly adaptable to higher elevations and is grown through Africa and Asia.
  5. Barnyard: This is grown in Australia, Japan, and other Asian countries.

The most commonly varieties of millet in the United States are proso and foxtail, with some barnyard as well. Approximately 14.9 million bushels were grown in the US in 2008. Over half was grown in Colorado, followed by South Dakota and Nebraska.

Millet production in the US mostly goes towards animal and bird beed. It is very high in protein, making it a particular favorite among vegetarians, as well as having several other health benefits, including being naturally gluten-free. It is also useful for weight loss, as it provides several nutrients and high levels of fiber while being low in calories.

More info on Millet

Name: Milet
FamilyPoaceae
Largest producers in the world: India and Nigeria (constituting over 50% of world production)
US Production: 14.9 million bushels (2008)

Details on how to grow: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/millet.html