Ragi ...A Wonder Grain!
Ragi ... also known as millet, nachni, sollu, or sattemavu ...
While ragi is an ideal first food after an infant reaches at least 6 months of age, the impact of advertising is such that many people, not recognizing the value of their traditional homegrown, homemade food are choosing packaged infant foods made from refined wheat or rice, and even earlier than 6 months. Sprouting ragi increases the bioavailability of its iron to 88%, comparable only to mother’s milk (and 8 times higher than cow’s milk). Without always knowing the numbers, villagers and cityfolk have sprouted grains and beans for variety. When we lose these healthy habits, our traditional homegrown, homemade food needs a make-over.
Family in Srikakulam receives a packet of sprouted ragi flour
AID India Srikakulam workers take ragi packets door-to-door. Does it help? See latest report
Sometimes village volunteers also need to overcome the giggles when they talk about this hardy cereal, which seems so homely alongside pricey packaged biscuits, “energy” snacks and drink mixes.
Today a growing urban market seeks organic,
sprouted ragi flour, ragi biscuits, etc. Jaws dropped in Srikakulam
when I mentioned the price of organic, sprouted ragi flour in Mumbai
shops – Rs. 100/kg. For only Rs. 1-2/kg they bought local organic ragi,
sprouted it and ground it freshly at home. Unless they had already
switched to commercial “baby foods,” which not only cost more, but do
not deliver equivalent nutrition. They may contain added sugar,
preservatives, and chemical residues. Moreover, poorer families may use
these inferior but expensive substitutes sparingly, whereas if they
were to eat ragi, the whole family, including the women, especially
lactacting mothers, could have their fill.
Gram for gram and paise for paise, Ragi is more nutritious than rice or dairy milk. Compare:
Baby Dilleswari reaches out for a packet of sprouted ragi flower ... yumm!
Sad but true, this traditional staple grain is rapidly falling out of fashion! In fact, Deccan Herald reports that ragi:
What other foods do we need to reincorporate into our lives to help live more lightly, keep small scale farming viable, keep healthy food affordable and keep ourselves and our planet healthy ?
As rural journalist P. Sainath has pointed out, jowar is another crop that is not only nutritious, but provides fodder for cows. While the government has touted its "Cow Program" to relieve struggling farmers in Vidarbha, the farmers struggle even more to provide fodder for these cows. One farmer noted that government support for jowar as a food grain would also provide fodder for the cows. Unfortunately neither ragi nor jowar are currently supported by the Public Distribution System (except in a few regions). TheTimes of India noted on Feb 28, 2007: " In many states, jowar, bajra and ragi are staple foods of the poor, but these coarse cereals are not covered by PDS. Poor people in these states end up eating wheat and rice. There is no export market for these coarse cereals either. So, prices of these cereals keep falling. The worst part is that these crops are grown by the very poor — marginal farmers on non-irrigated land. The very poor keep getting poorer as there are no takers for the foodgrains they grow — not even the poor."
Rediscover traditional foods and sustain these for all!
Watch and learn how to make Ragi Porridge:
Volunteers in College Park rediscover delicious ragi for breakfast.
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