Thursday, 19 March 2009 by nalika
The Teff Company founder, Wayne Carlson, first became involved in Ethiopian affairs during the early 1970’s. In the course of his work there Wayne lived as a guest of the local farming folk. The farmers were eager to show their guest their farms and crops and he became devoted to the local food. The farmers have a wide variety of crops including barley, wheat, sorghum, maize, finger millet and now even potatoes. But they prefer to grow and eat teff even though the yield is much less than that of barley or wheat. Since all the work is done by muscle power, Wayne wondered why they didn’t devote themselves to that grain which would grow the biggest return.
Later, in Idaho, Wayne was fascinated by the geological and climatic similarities of the Snake River region and the East African Rift. Both are the result of major dynamics in the earth’s crust, resulting in massive basaltic lava flows and tectonic movements. And both are subjected to hot summers with intense sunlight. The idea came that it may be possible to grow teff in the Snake River Valley. Why not change the direction of cultural influence? Rather than exporting “development” practices to Ethiopia, why not take some wisdom from an ancient culture? From there it was a small step to contact Ethiopians living in the American metropolitan areas and re-establish the relation between the Ethiopians and their favorite grain.
The Teff Company has been supplying the Ethiopian and Eritrean communities for nearly twenty years with American-grown Maskal Teff. With the fertile fields and ecologically sensitive farming methods some of the best quality teff in the world is produced in Idaho.
As word of the superior nutritional properties of Maskal Teff spread it has become available nationally in health food stores and by direct mail.
The assumption that the cultural influence is unidirectional and the bits about "ancient culture" sound a little cheesy, but how else can you put it, to keep a faithful face to this endeavor?
Hopefully they won't get into patenting the hybrid teff, like RiceTec that made Indians furious for patenting hybrid basmati rice.
Besides, it is a bit disappointing that they don't have a recipe for injera in their recipe page, where they only suggest mostly Western style recipes:
Mocha Tofu Apricot Teff PieThese recipes are interesting by itself, but do they assume teff flour buyers already know how to fix their injera?
Cook Teff with Other Grains
Millet and Teff with Squash and Onions
Mocha Teff Scones
Apple or Pear Crisp
Tofu Vegetable Quiche
Teff Banana Pancakes
Peanut Butter Cookies
Dessert Pie Crust
Apple Teff Crumb Pie
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
I'd be curious if Ethiopians would taste test the Idaho teff and Ethiopian teff.