The ancient African grain – part of the millet family – has been named as one of 50 nutritious foods consumers should be eating more of to promote a more diverse, sustainable global food system.
The Future 50 Food report by Unilever and the Word Wildlife Foundation (WWF) outlines that, despite being over 50,000 edible plants in the world, nearly two thirds of global food supply comes from just four crops – wheat, maize, rice and soybean.
Fonio – part of the millet family that has been grown in Africa for over 5,000 years – can help reverse the effects of climate change, being fast-growing, drought-resistant and a good buffer against soil erosion.
The naturally gluten-free and low GI grain has a couscous-like texture and a nutty flavour. It is also rich in iron and amino acids, and a good source of zinc, vitamin B1 and B3, and phosphorus.
“Fonio is a delicious, nutritious, gluten-free ancient grain that can be cooked in just a few minutes, giving it blockbuster potential within the natural foods market,” said Andrew Hunt, Aduna co-founder and CEO.
“When combined with its capacity to regenerate degraded soils and, via our ethical sourcing model, to transform the lives of women in rural Africa, it is truly a ‘future food’ fit for the needs of the 21st Century.”
The 100% natural, organic and vegan fonio used by Aduna also plays a crucial role in supporting food security and income generation for rural communities. The company sources its grain from 320 women smallholders in Tiebe, Southern Mali, who, collectively, have over 1,000 dependents whose basic needs are now taken care of.
To avoid the ‘quinoa effect’ – where demand from overseas outstripped supply, pricing local consumers out of the market – Aduna and its partners have also committed to buying only 80% of the crop, leaving 20% for local consumption.
Fonio can be consumed as an alternative to quinoa, rice or couscous in salads, soups and stir-fries, as a side dish or as a creamy porridge. Aduna also specializes in a range of novel snacks and health foods made from other ancient superfoods, including baobab – an African fruit prized for its high vitamin C, fibre and antioxidant content – and moringa, a drought-resistant leafy crop native to Southeast Asia.
Aduna’s Fonio Ancient Super-Grain is set to launch in WholeFoods and Planet Organic outlets in January 2020.