Ethiopian grain could be California’s new superfood

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It’s a Gluten free gain, high in iron and fiber.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The people who make Northern California Strong are those who inspire us and make our communities a great place to live. ABC10 wants to highlight their strength by recognizing what they do. This week we want to introduce you to Zion Taddese.

California is the Nation’s leader in food production, a third of the fruits and two-thirds of all vegetables are grown here, but there is one plant that golden state grows very little of until now. It’s called Teff and it’s a Gluten-free gain, high in iron and fiber. It’s also the main ingredient that Zion Taddese uses at her restaurant, Queen Sheeba Ethiopian Food in Sacramento. 

“We use it in our injera, all gluten-free made from Teff,” said Taddese. “This is Teff growing in California for the first time.”

Teff is an African grain that Taddese grew up eating in Ethiopia, but after migrating to Sacramento and starting her restaurant she found that Teff was difficult to buy in the US. 

“There is a high demand for Teff, but there is not enough supply,” explained Taddese.

To remedy her supply problem, Zion enlisted the help of UC Davis to find a strain of Teff that would grow in California. 

“I am working with UC Davis to create the knowledge, the training, the technology to share with farmers,” said Zion. 

The technology is well on its way. UC Davis researchers had a successful crop last year and now farmers William and John Gilbert are preparing to plant Teff in their vacant Walnut orchard in Wheatland. 

“We are interested in Healthy food. The incentive to grow it is the healthier the food the more people buy it,” says William Gilbert.

Taddese is on a mission to make Teff California’s new Super Grain. The restaurant owner started a new organization called Sheba Farms that will bring jobs to Sacramento. “Creating the processing center where we can mill it, clean it and distribute it,” says Taddese

Through Teff, Taddese wants to make her community Northern California strong and someday share that strength with her homeland of Ethiopia. 

“I hope to feed the world through Sheba Farms because no child should be left behind when it comes to food and nutrition.”

Helping to diversify California agriculture and create new jobs, Zion Taddese is NorCal Strong. If you want to nominate a strong Northern Californian send a text (916) 321-3310 and put NorCal Strong in the text. Feel free to send pictures and or web links in the submission. 

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