While most people in the US are familiar with sorghum as a food crop for livestock, the truth is that sorghum is used around the world for humans as well. Currently, sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop in the world behind wheat, rice, maize and potatoes. However, as more people are discovering the benefits of sorghum, interest in the crop is rising as part of the human diet.
Sorghum dates back to about 8000 BC as remains have been found in the Mabta Playa archaeological site in southern Egypt, making this one of the most ancient grains that humans have consumed. In the US, sorghum is mostly grown in the central plains stretching from South Dakota down to Texas. About 7.7 million acres of sorghum was planted in 2007, making the US the largest producer of sorghum in the world.
The Advantages of Sorghum
There are many advantages for sorghum as a crop that can be used for a number of different purposes. From livestock crops to those that produce ethanol plants for alternative fuel consumption, sorghum has proven its value. But as a food crop, sorghum has many uses as well.
Hearty Crop: One of the biggest advantages of sorghum is that it is adaptable enough to grow in most climates with little difficulty. Sorghum is a drought-tolerant crop that is often grown in places where other types of cereals cannot grow. Sorghum is a sturdy, hardy crop than can be found all over the world.
Gluten-Free: There is no gluten in sorghum, making it the perfect grain for people who have celiac disease. Sorghum has emerged as a nutrient-rich ancient grain with multiple health benefits as compared to modern grains, such as wheat. Gluten intolerance has given rise to the use of sorghum as a primary alternative crop in the creation of gluten-free foods, and people with gluten sensitivity generally like the variety and texture of sorghum.
Neutral Substitute: Sorghum has a very light, sweet flavor that makes it quite adaptable and useful in creating many different types of dishes. Because it absorbs other flavors well, sorghum is often considered like tofu in that regard. Because sorghum doesn’t have gluten, another “binding” ingredient such as cornstarch or xanthan gum is used to add “stretch” to the product. However, it does work very well for a wide variety of recipes, including breads, pizzas, cookies, cakes and many others.
The Value of Sorghum
Although mostly used as livestock feed in the US, many people are aware that sorghum is also used for syrups made from the juice in stalks of certain varieties of this cereal product. The US produced a white colored grain of sorghum, called “Food Grain Sorghums” that are grown on tan plants which produces light colored glumes. This produces a gluten-free flour that is incorporated in many cereal products and is currently being studied for its health benefits.
It is those with celiac disease, the inability to absorb gluten, where sorghum is having its biggest impact on people in the US. Because celiac disease causes many issues, such as the inability to absorb nutrients and dehydration, the increased interest in sorghum is definitely on the rise. Since sorghum has no known negative side effects, it can be used as an effective substitute for gluten-based products in a wide variety of circumstances.
Every day, sorghum is becoming a more popular food product for use in a variety of situations. What was just once for livestock in the US has now progressed to becoming a very popular alternate food source.