Is Fonio the Ancient Grain of the Future?

Fonio, the grain the ancient Egyptians deemed worthy of taking to the afterlife.

You might imagine the day I came upon an article highlighting a grain I had not heard of.  Lindsay Smith, my office mate and the Education Coordinator of the CLC, heard me from her side of our office whooping with excitement over the mention of this new grain. I’m not entirely sure she shared my enthusiasm, but I felt this grain was worthy of highlighting, especially since whole grains are in the news for their health benefits and the important role they play in a plant-based diet.   

Senegalise born, and now New York-renowned, chef Pierre Thiam explains how he came across this form of millet called fonio—a grain grown by smallholder farmers all over West Africa but nearly disappeared from the urban diet. Fonio, cultivated for over 5,000 years, is a “climate crisis-ready crop,” which means it grows in poor soils and during drought conditions. It’s a nutrient-dense, naturally gluten-free ancient grain—perfectly suited to serve both local food security and Western health trends.

You may not see this grain on the shelves at the Co-op Food Stores yet, but if you love cooking with grains, let us know if you would like to see this on the shelves!


The following two tabs change content below.

Ken Davis

Ken Davis is the Co-op's senior copywriter. Email him at