Sorghum Fun Fact
Kansas is the largest grain sorghum producing state in the U.S.
The origin and early domestication of sorghum took place in Northeastern Africa and the earliest known record of sorghum comes from an archeological dig at Nabta Playa, near the Egyptian-Sudanese border, dated at 8,000 B.C. It spread throughout Africa and along the way adapted to a wide range of environments from the highlands of Ethiopia to the semi-arid Sahel.
In many cases, the development and spread of five different races of sorghum can be attributed to the movement of various tribal groups in Africa. Sorghum then spread to India and China and eventually worked its way into Australia. The first known record of sorghum in the United States comes from Ben Franklin who wrote about its application in producing brooms in 1757.
An Ancient, Healthy, Gluten-Free Grain
An ancient grain, sorghum has recently appeared in food products in the United States. As demand for non-GMO and gluten-free food grows, sorghum’s popularity is seeing a resurgence. With its wonderful, nutty taste, sorghum is a terrific wheat substitute for those who cannot tolerate gluten. Sorghum is also an excellent source of energy, containing about 75% complex carbohydrate, is a good to excellent source of iron and zinc and is rich in B complex vitamins. Additionally, sorghum provides good to excellent sources of phytochemicals such as phenolic acids, anthocyanins, phytosterols and policosanols.
Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal grain crop in the world, largely because it grows well in many different environments, it is naturally drought tolerant and its versatility as a food, feed and fuel. Only four other foods: rice, wheat, maize and potatoes are consumed in greater amounts by the human race. Used to make both leavened and unleavened breads, sorghum is also found in various fermented and unfermented beverages and can be steamed, popped, flaked or consumed as a whole grain or syrup. For thousands of years, sorghum has been a food staple around the world. It is the dietary foundation of more than 500 million people in 30 countries and is one of the most familiar foods in the world.
The United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) is working with food companies across the U.S. to increase awareness about sorghum. USCP is also developing relationships with major users of flour to encourage the use of sorghum flour in gluten-free baking.