Staple Diet Alternatives

Staple Diet Alternatives for a More Economic Living

Independent Project Funded by ICT Project ICAR. These results would also be a part of IACR journal in due time.

The contributors: 

Diksha Gupta (Certified Dietician),

Sunita Singh (Ex Principal scientist-Microbiology) and

Satyapriya (Division of Agricultural Extension, Indian Agricultural Research Institute)

QS: Most of the countries at war or suffering from famine and drought need to understand their staple diets better. Why? Since our staple foods comprise more than half of the amount we spend on food, being judicious is of utmost importance, and to be so, you will need to understand how to find out…

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It was a bright sunny morning in a nondescript location in India where a group of Banjara women were happily picking dry sticks and shoots from a mango orchard. They seemed happy, and among the shades of the trees, as they hop skipped and jumped from one spot to another, their tinkling laughter was not something one could miss. They were happy as their mothers were waiting, back in the caravan for them to return. Using those twigs, they would create a fire and prepare some kadi chawal (vegetables and rice) and also some chapattis (freshly baked bread) to have with a spicy, thick vegetable curry. But their laughter does not mean they were unaffected by the COVID pandemic.

When I asked them what they would like to have cheaply in the market, they smiled and giggled for a while before one said they would love to have wheat and rice at a lesser price. Due to their present role as construction workers, they were on the move constantly. They also did not have the BPL card, which helps poor people get rations at a subsidized rate.

With COVID, low-income groups lost a lot of business, and regular work became distant.

But this is just not the scene here. In fact, it is a story you can find in every corner of the world.

In Venezuela, a young family with two toddlers to handle waits for her husband to return from the market. The mother wishes she could get the staples a bit cheaper.

So is it with the women of Nigeria, who would love to get the staple crops at a lesser price?

Even our Chinese and many European counterparts, including Koreans, would want to get the staples at a far reduced rate than what they get now.

People from countries at war demand the same kind of expectations from their governments and from the world.

From this brief survey, we understood that most people all around the globe are looking for a staple food more often than others, and all are primarily worried about staple food prices here.

But before we move on, we need to understand the term “staples” better.

For those who know, you can continue with the next passages, but for those who don’t, let us start by understanding more about the term “staple diet.”

According to the National Geographic Society, “staple diet is any food that is consumed by the majority of the population in a given geographic region”. It refers to any particular food habit that supplements a population’s energy and nutritional needs. Maize, rice, wheat, millets, quinoa, etc. are some of the popular food staples all across the world. Cereals usually make up the largest part of our meals, and we rely heavily on them for carbohydrates, aka our direct source of energy. Also, they come cheaper than other foods available in the market and can fill our stomachs better than other food varieties.

Carbohydrates are always the first food choice for those who work hard and stay out in the open. Those who remain indoors yet work hard also choose easily digestible carbohydrates as their number one food choice. Most people buy sacks of rice and wheat and stock them at home whenever an emergency arises.

It is also a known fact that when any manmade or natural disaster or catastrophe hits food supplies and food accessibility, then feeding the affected poses a major challenge for the governments and NGOs (non-governmental organizations). With the current global population standing at 8 billion, while India’s population is alone at 1.4 billion, the stress of feeding all mouths is ever on the rise. So, here we are today with some suggestions on staple diet alternatives that could help you and your family survive difficult times.

But before we move onto that part, we would also like to focus a bit on the obvious reasons that lead to such scarcity or a rise in prices. Though obvious, they remain oblivious to human consciousness and do not tap our mind’s door until they stand as living entities behind those closed doors. Hence, knowing them will refresh our memories on what can pose a challenge for human survival.

Scientifically, how significant can the changes in staple diets be on human health?

Human health is a fragile concept, and when it comes to it, you can only be unsure of what can work well and what will not. There is, however, one thing that we all know works well not only for our palates but also for our bodies, and that is the rotation of food items.

Undeniably, our world is limited, and so are our food items. We can make a thousand and ten recipes for lady’s fingers and five thousand recipes for potatoes. But we cannot create a new vegetable, nor can we have a new vegetable each day here on this planet.

Thus, rotating your staple diet can help a lot in procuring different nutritional requirements straight from food instead of having to depend on external nutritional sources. If you take only one kind of cereal or eat only one staple crop, you will end up replenishing your body with the same nutritional chart, and thus, you’d have missed out on a lot of other nutrients.

Even if there is no war or famine, you must always rotate your dietary chart so that you include what is available out there. Grow out of your routine rice, pasta, bun, and bread or noodle diet and pick something different for the whole family.

This is how you can balance your body’s nutritional requirements and also create a different taste every day. Like I said before, if one product does not have certain nutrients, you can always get them from other sources. This way, altering your food chart can bring you freshness and make your life fuller, healthier, and happier.

During war or famine, if you have already tasted a food item;

  • You’ll be more than ready to adapt to a certain food item.
  • Regular use of a staple for a few months that is more readily available around you can decrease your monetary load and increase your chances of survival.

In short, you can be better prepared for the world that will come your way rather than depending on limited resources.

If you wonder why your grocery bill is so much higher than your neighbors’, think again! Are you buying the most economically built products?

Do you realize you might be using a food item more highly priced in the market but nutritionally inferior to a cheaper variety of food available?

If this is the case, you will surely spend more. The food we eat most is known as our staple diet. It is also the item on which we spend the most. Most homes state they can omit meat for a month when prices go high, and some can even leave onions when their prices rise, resorting to the greener alternative of the onion. But all homes agree that they cannot do without a staple crop.

Thus, when you are investing the most in one kind of food, why don’t you invest more time in it?

Every month, study the market carefully. Check the prices of each item and then design your grocery list around the most nutritious and the least expensive items.

Also, do keep an eye on the most nutritious items available; if you pay a bit more to procure them, you will still fare better.

Now is the time to learn how best to rotate your staple diet as the market is reeling under the impacts of war, floods, earthquakes, and disease.

How can staple diet changes help minimize your cost of living?

Definitely, if you can procure an item you consume most at a cheaper price; your monthly grocery bill will drastically reduce.

You will end up having more money for fruits, baked goods, or whatever your family loves having.

If a family switches from rice, for example, to wheat for a month, where the rice brand they consumed was available at Rs. 55 per kilogram and the wheat is priced at Rs. 26 per kilogram, and if you need 5 kg of wheat for a week, they would end up spending less on it compared to what they spend on rice.

Similarly, there are certain food products whose prices are high in the market because their demand is low, but when their demand rises, the prices automatically reduce given other factors remain constant. By carefully balancing your staple diet, you can thus create a tiny saving, which you can use to push for the purchase of other items.

The various factors that impact staple food consumption worldwide

There are various reasons why staple food consumption worldwide is affected so heavily by even the slightest of reasons. Most of these factors are not unknown to us, given that we take shape and form in this world. As we grow up, we understand that, just like our human body, staple food poses a critical and vulnerable aspect that is hard and difficult to tackle as a whole.

The next section talks about the numerous factors that impact a population’s food consumption. These factors are economic recession, financial emergencies faced by certain countries, wars, natural calamities, and pandemics.

Not much elaboration is needed on this aspect, and yet, we cannot negate their existence, so we bring to you problems that are essential to mention.

High inflation rates

Every market is undergoing some or other form of inflation. If you think about it simply, it is nothing more than the growing disparity in currency rates. If an Indian can get half a liter of milk for Rs. 26/-, a Nigerian would get the same amount of milk for more than 600 Naira. This way, our GDP is

Global economic recession

According to IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva, a third of the world economy is likely to be affected by recession in 20231. Amid mass layoffs by global tech giants, the ability to feed our families becomes the most gruelling factor.

According to a report by the World Bank2, the global economy is expected to grow by only 1.7% in 2023. The other key takeaways from the report are as follows:

  • While developed economies will grow by only 0.5%, developing economies are projected to decelerate to 2.7% in 2023, except for China.
  • The US economy is expected to grow by 0.5% this year alone.
  • Meanwhile, the European economy will be subjected to stagflation.
  • Even though the Chinese economy is projected to grow by 4.3%, it is still 0.9% behind previous years.

Which countries account for majority of the population living below the poverty line?

Poverty refers to an economic condition that is characterized by a person’s or family’s lack of money and basic necessities. People living below the poverty line are most impacted by the rise in the cost of food consumables.

According to an article published by the World Bank3 in 2019, half of the world’s 736 million extremely poor people live in just five countries:

CountryPercent population living below national poverty line (World Bank)Percent population living below national poverty line (CIA)
Bangladesh24.3% (2016)24.3% (2016)
Democratic Republic of Congo63.9% (2012)63.0% (2014)
Ethiopia23.5% (2015)23.5% (2015)
India11.9% (2011)11.9% (2020)
Nigeria40.1% (2018)40.1% (2018)

In another report published by the World Bank4 on December 8, 2022, about 648 million people survive on less than US $2.15 per day, which is also regarded as the current international poverty line (IPL). However, for lower middle-income countries, the poverty line is US $3.65, and for upper middle-income countries, the poverty line is US $6.85.

The 2022 Poverty and Shared Prosperity report5 also revealed that about 47% of the global population lived below the US $6.85 poverty line.       

· Current countries facing financial crisis?

According to a Reuters report6, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Russia, Zambia, and Suriname have already defaulted with the IMF, while Belarus is on the brink of facing an economic crisis.

Other countries that are witnessing a surge in their borrowing costs and debts are:

  • Argentina, with more than $150 billion
  • Ecuador, with a debt of $40 billion,
  • Egypt, with $45 billion
  • Ukraine would also need to realign their existing $20 billion or more of debt.
  • Further Tunisia has a 10% budget deficit.
  • Ghana’s debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 85% last year.
  • Meanwhile, Egypt has a 95% debt-to-GDP ratio.
  • Kenya makes interest payments of 30% annually from its revenues.

Other nations that are also dealing with high inflation and economic upheavals are Ethiopia, El Salvador, Pakistan, Ecuador, and Nigeria.

· Countries at war?

Larger parts of the world, including Europe, North America, and South America, use wheat as their staple food. As Russia and Ukraine broke into war last year, prices of wheat began surging, as both countries are large contributors of it to the world market. Russia’s relations with the West were strained as a result of the war. Wars also impacts the supply chain drastically.

Similarly, ongoing civil conflicts and terrorist insurgencies in Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, Burkina Faso, the DR Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, Iraq, and Afghanistan deeply impact food supply and food prices.

·  Natural calamities and pandemics

The very recent earthquakes in Syria and Turkey and the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic are two events that have made it evident that food supply becomes a major issue during such crisis periods. This consequently impacts the prices and availability of food grains for the masses.

If the world can see an improvement in these factors, there may be a way to stop the rise of prices of staples, our primary carbohydrate and energy supplier.

Judging from our staple diet perspective, we will try to run a brief idea around the type of food that consumes more of a person’s pocket in the next segment.

What kind of foods is currently taking more of a person’s earning?

As a part of Europe broke into war last year, food prices began surging all over the world. The surge in price of wheat particularly raised everyone’s concern as majority of the world population; especially the western countries depend heavily on wheat as their everyday staple. Other foods that got costlier are:

  • Poultry and eggs – The price of all chicken, both frozen and fresh, increased by 6–7%. Since last year, not only the price of chicken but also the cost of eggs has surged. According to the USDA, inflation and avian influenza are two prime causes behind limiting the number of eggs supplied and consequently influencing their price.
  • Dairy products – Dairy prices are skyrocketing, and demand and supply problems seem to be the culprits.
  • Fresh and processed fruits – The USDA predicted last year that all kinds of fresh and processed fruits would witness a surge in price of up to 6%.
  • Oils and fatsA rise in manufacturing costs, along with other factors, has contributed to the significant price rise of cooking oils and consumable fatty products.
  • Sugars and sweets All kinds of sugars, sweets, cereals, and juices also witnessed a 3 – 4% rise in price.
  • Cereals Cereals in general are always a bit expensive and consume more of a person’s daily expenses. This is largely regulated by supply and demand. They also rely heavily on advertising and marketing. Also, the prices of these kinds of branded foods are not regulated by the government, and tight competition in the market tends to skyrocket the price. Another factor that impacts the prices of cereals is climate change. Climate change is impacting crop production. According to research, if global warming is not contained by 2030, then the cost of cereals will jump by 20%.

Can any cheaper food variety replace these foods?

According to a report published at ourworldindata.org7, researchers found that across the world, a calorie-sufficient, nutritious diet costs about $3.54 per day, which about three billion people in the world cannot afford. So, here is how people can cope with the rising prices of food.

  • Eat cheaper food varieties more

Vegetables are cheaper in many countries, and some people grow them right in their farms and backyards; if that is the case, switching to vegetables with less use of staple grains like rice and wheat if they are more heavily priced than the vegetables makes sense.

  • Switch to a staple crop abundantly available in the market

Even if we don’t eat rice and wheat, it is not much of an issue, as long as we can find some crop that is equally or even more nutritious than wheat and rice.

  • Switch to local, cheaper variants of your family’s staple crops

Local ones are cheaper than the ones that come through the elaborate process. If you know of farms nearby or have your own, try procuring your consumables from there instead of procuring them from the market.

  • Switch to locally produced brands

Local brands can also have quality. If you can verify the quality of a particular local brand by visiting their unit or talking to them, you can also switch to a local brand that might be way cheaper than the standard brands available in the market.

  • Start growing daily use food items and use that money to purchase staple diet crops

You can grow your own food too, and you don’t require acres of land for it. A spare room is all you might need, along with a handful of racks. A few vegetables and fresh fruits can be easily grown in your home. That way, you eat the freshest and highest-quality variety of that particular food and also get to save a good amount of money.

  • Eat the raw versions of the produce instead of consuming the refined versions

Eating brown rice can save a lot of money compared to the variety sorted in the mill. Buying wheat or ragi whole from the market and then making wheat out of it can save you a lot of money you end up spending on your staple. You might need to wash and dry these crops, but if you have a bit of manpower, you will surely save more on it.

 How beneficial can these cheaper foods be for public health and why?

Current research is aimed at producing food varieties that target a certain metric, which can be extremely beneficial for the health of individuals.

These food sources have been discussed and extensively researched by a bright group of researchers. The contributors: Diksha Gupta (Certified Dietician), Sunita Singh (Ex-Principal Scientist-Microbiology), and Satyapriya (Division of Agricultural Extension, Indian Agricultural Research Institute) acknowledge funding from ICT Project ICAR, and these results would also be a part of the IACR journal. When you check the Nutridense Food Variety health metrics that they targeted, you will see they have a few bullet points around certain health parameters they wish to obtain in the population with them.

With each crop variety, the targeted nutritional profile and benefits are discussed below.

· Oats (Avena sativa L.)

Oats are not cheap in the market, especially if it is not a locally made product, but what is striking about oats is that they are quite nutritious, and even one bowl of oats can serve a lot of needs in a human.

Fat6.91 %
Protein13.65 %
Carbohydrates55.75 %
Fibers16.5 %
Energy607 kcal/100g
Calcium60.13 mg/100g
Iron9.23 mg/100g
Thiamine1.2 mg/100g
Riboflavin0.2 mg/100g
Magnesium115 mg/100g
Niacin1.5 mg/100g
Phosphorus474.06 mg/100g
Potassium337 mg/100g
Folic acid87.4 µg/100g

Traditionally, oats are not consumed by all, but since they have health benefits, one cannot ignore them. The average price of one kilo of oats in the Indian market is more than one kilo of wheat flour.

But since oats can be eaten in a lot of different ways, they might serve the purpose better in times of crisis than wheat can. Starting from plain oatmeal with milk to making fresh baked bread from it, there is a lot more that can be done with one kilo of oats than with one kilo of wheat. Thus, oats can be used as a replacement under these circumstances.

  • If you do not have access to wheat in the market, you can try oats as a healthy replacement. Both have the ability to prevent a large number of diseases and also avail themselves of different nutrients to fulfil individual requirements.
  • When you have enough money to buy a replacement food other than wheat, replacing a few meals with oats can save you from monotony and influence your energy and nutrient values immensely.
  • Lowers cholesterol (soluble fibres), blood glucose, and also improves constipation efficiently. If you suffer from either of these two conditions, oats can be a safe replacement for wheat, as a gluten-free diet is considered a lot healthier.
  • Avenanthramides (antioxidants) work as anti-inflammatory and anti-itching products and can play a huge role in preventing coronary heart disease, colon cancer, and skin irritation conditions.
  • They support celiac diseases by being gluten-free and also work wonders for overweight Type II diabetes patients.

· Wheat (Triticum aestivum L)

Nevertheless, our country consumes a heavy amount of wheat every year, and the annual production is quite enough for our population. Wheat also comes cheap, and people expect it could be better if it came cheaper.

Wheat can replace any other staple in our country comfortably, except in a few places that may complain about not having enough rice. But, in times of crisis, the Indian masses can get along with wheat. What you can find in wheat to supplement your body’s needs is highlighted below.

Fat1.5 g/100g
Protein11.8 g/100g
Carbohydrates71.2 g/100g
Fibers1.2 g/100g
Energy346 kcal/100g
Calcium41 mg/100g
Iron28-32 ppm
Thiamine0.45 mg/100g
Riboflavin0.17 mg/100g
Niacin5.5 mg/100g
Phosphorus306 mg/100g
Potassium337 mg/100g
Folic acid36.6 µg/100g
Beta carotene64 µg/100g
Zinc30-32 ppm

Local wheat produce can bring down your price-related issues, as you might find varieties that go well with your dietary requirements and also suit your pocket.

  • High fiber content will benefit your health when you replace it with the wheat fibres.
  • If you know folic acid present in wheat can prevent neural tube defects in newborn babies,
  • Folic acid can also protect one from the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease by providing a protective advantage to the neurons, thereby preserving learning and memory easily.
  • People who use wheat as a staple can get a lot of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins from it.

The varieties in India that have recently been used for better produce include;

Karan Narendra (DBW 222) from UPIt leads to a high produceBest in the UP region
Shriya wheat varietyIt is resistant to wheat blast, leaf rust, and Karnal blunt. It offers lot of nutritional gain compared to many other types of wheat.Grows best in Uttar Pradesh
Karan Vandana (DBW 187)It can give the highest yieldIt can grow in Jharkhand, and the North Eastern plains. This wheat is known for its high protein content (12%)
CBW 38 SonalikaIt is also known for its high yieldIt is best in areas on the eastern side of the country
  • It is a lot of hard work to find out which wheat is in your flour, but on average, any local producer will be able to tell you what the wheat is good for.
  • Mostly, choosing to eat what can improve your health will solve a lot of your health issues.
  • It is mostly a trial-and-error process where people who are facing a staple food crisis get a chance to explore their own food varieties that grow within their country.
  • Wheat is the staple diet of many nations, and thus we have tried to explain what grows in our country and how it can help our people in times of trouble. Lessening dependence on exported goods can help improve the survival of people within the country.
  • These wheat varieties are sold in the local market and then to brands.
  • During a crisis, you can directly pick simple local wheat and save your pennies on the amount you spend. You can also ensure that you do not have to change the meal type or the cereal.

· Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.)

There were famines and disasters earlier in Bengal when people just drank barley soup to survive through the famine. Barley was made cheap and was available to people in those times. Even now, barley is available in the market. Below, we know what you can gain from a bowl of hot barley soup. Nutritionally, a bit higher than wheat, its price is impacted more by its demand curve that is certainly less than wheat. With increase in its demand, the prices are sure to go down.

Fat1.3 g/100g
Protein11.5 g/100g
Carbohydrates69.6 g/100g
Fibers3.9 g/100g
Energy336 kcal/100g
Calcium26 mg/100g
Iron1.7 mg/100g
Thiamine0.47 mg/100g
Riboflavin0.20 mg/100g
Niacin5.4 mg/100g
Phosphorus215 mg/100g

There are the following advantages that you need to know about barley. Ordinarily, barley in the Indian market comes in at Rs. 36 per kg.

Even though the price is slightly higher for branded barley, you can get it a little cheaper if you procure the locally made barley. After cleaning and processing, you will get a lot of fair quality barley that you can use to make any number of dishes.

When wheat and rice are difficult to obtain, barley could be a valuable staple diet to switch to.

The health benefits of barley are also different and way more powerful than those of wheat. Below, we mention the general health benefits of barley.

  • It is a dietary fiber in the form of beta glucan and is way different from wheat.
  • It has tocopherols and tocotrienols that serve as natural antioxidants.
  • Beta glucan can reduce cholesterol and also keep blood glucose under control.
  • For diabetics, barley can also work on the glycemic index metre, which will help maintain your blood sugar level.
  • Losing weight and improving digestion are other aspects that can greatly benefit from switching to barley.

· Maize (Zea mays)

Maize is another alternative that is used by many as a staple even today. Everyone knows how a developed nation like America produces and exports a huge amount of maize, which they call corn.

Maize can make life easier for people, as worldwide maize production is huge. You won’t lose much if you switch to maize, as observed by the nutritional chart for maize.

Fat3.6 g/100g
Protein11.1 g/100g
Carbohydrates66.2 g/100g
Fibers2.7 g/100g
Energy342 kcal/100g
Calcium10 mg/100g
Iron2.3 mg/100g
Thiamine0.42 mg/100g
Riboflavin0.10 mg/100g
Niacin1.8 mg/100g
Phosphorus348 mg/100g
Folic acid20 µg/100g
Provitamin-A1.0- 2.0 ppm
Lysine1.5-2.0% of protein
Tryptophan0.3-0.4% of protein

United States produced 360,252 thousand tons of maize in 2020 alone and the production volume of corn in 2022/2023 is 348.75 million metric tons.

Usually, the quality of maize guides its value and you can get a kilogram of maize for about ₹ 24 / kg.

The nutrient diary of maize is as wonderful as any other staple diet. If you want to have a look at what you can get, you will need to look at the following points.

  • If you want to look at eye health, you can trust that maize is a good source of carotenoids, plus it offers antioxidant properties. Lens damage from cataracts can also be prevented using maize.
  •  As a source of complex carbohydrate, it entails a slow digestion rate that can ensure you remain energetic for a long time as energy production continues for a longer span.
  • Corn is a rich source of zeaxanthin, folic acid, and pantothenic acid, which prevent birth defects in neonates.
  • Thiamine and pantothenic acid help with the metabolism of carbohydrates and the different physiological functions of the body.
  • Typically, a gluten-free diet is what you can have through maize, unlike wheat.
  • It is an improver of gut health and a preventer of heart disease and Type II diabetes, though it is not a medical alternative, but it can help an individual live healthy.

Try maize as an alternative staple in times of war or dearth.

· Rice (Oryza sativa L.)

They say when nothing works, rice does.

If you have rice during war, you will not go hungry.

Developing nations like Bangladesh and Myanmar have populations that feed on rice three or even four times a day. So every meal of theirs revolves around rice, and rice is what makes them survive.

Out of the total population of 8 billion people, more than 3.5 billion consume rice alone as their staple diet. Particularly, Asia, Latin America, and larger parts of Africa have such arrangements.

But the magic of rice does not lie with polished rice rather with its brown variety. Thiamine is present in rice bran and can be as high as 3.03 mg as found in Indonesian varieties compared to polished rice which has it but the content is low enough to add to one’s health and wellbeing.

The nutritional chart of rice is as awesome as any other staple diet variety but it differs from one rice variety to another.

Fat0.5 g/100g
Protein6.8 g/100g
Carbohydrates78.2 g/100g
Fibers0.2 g/100g
Energy345 kcal/100g
Calcium14 mg/100g
Iron0.7 mg/100g
Thiamine0.06 mg/100g
Riboflavin0.06 mg/100g
Niacin1.9 mg/100g
Phosphorus160 mg/100g
Potassium5 mg/100g

Many people worry about what they would do if they woke up one day and realized they couldn’t find the right kind of dietary source within reach.

There can be millions of causes that can lead to the loss of availability of a particular staple diet in a certain region or locality. If you want to know what would happen if someday you had to switch to eating rice because none of the other staple foods were available, you need to look at its health benefits here.

  • A gluten-free diet is a necessity for many nowadays, given that many are turning out to be allergic to a gluten rich diet. Also, people suffering from constipation and hard stool issues suffer a lot from daily high levels of gluten consumption.
  • Brown rice, when consumed regularly over time, can contribute to a lower rate of diabetes, lower cholesterol, and lower risks of heart disease and cancer.
  • Obesity is something people won’t complain about if they regularly feed on rice.
  • The brown rice variety can add to the health of the nerves and improve the overall performance and functions of the nervous system.

·  Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.)

Sorghum is consumed in many parts of the world by the lower economic groups and also by many developing nations as part of their daily diet.

Fat1.9 g/100g
Protein10.4 g/100g
Carbohydrates72.8 g/100g
Fibers1.6 g/100g
Energy349 kcal/100g
Calcium25 mg/100g
Iron4.1 mg/100g
Thiamine0.37 mg/100g
Riboflavin0.13 mg/100g
Niacin3.1 mg/100g
Phosphorus222 mg/100g
Folic acid20.0 µg/100g
β-carotene47 µg/100g
Magnesium165 mg
Sodium6 mg
Zinc1.7 mg
Copper0.284 mg
Selenium12.2 mg

If you are alternating your diet with a meal of sorghum, you should know that you won’t lose much weight and that you can still feed your family something nutritious even when there is a scarcity of normal food items.

Here are the nutritional benefits of consuming sorghum;

  • It is a gluten-free diet, so unlike wheat, it serves you better.
  • The antioxidant content of sorghum is high, and it can reduce the risk of metabolic disorders significantly. Type II diabetes mellitus and heart diseases reduce significantly with daily consumption of sorghum.
  • You can use it to create noodles or make malted food with its help. A variety of different dishes can be made out of it.
  • It is an amazing source of fat-soluble vitamins and can help maintain the vital activities of your body.

Sorghum is quite costly and is primarily demand induced. The demand for sorghum is quite low when compared to wheat and rice.

A kilogram of sorghum will cost close to a hundred rupees. Availability is also a factor that drives hundred rupees. Availability is also a factor that drives demand, and during hard times, if you can lay your hands on an ample source of sorghum, you will benefit.

·  Millets

There are several varieties of millet.

Finger millet, pearl millet, proso, little, kodo, or barnyard millet are some of the different kinds.

All sorts of millets are a cheap source of a nutritious meal.

Nutritional ValueFinger MilletPearl MilletProso MilletLittle MilletBarnyard MilletKodo Millet
Fat1.3 g/100g5.0 g/100g1.1 g/100g4.7 g/100g2.2 g/100g1.4 g/100g
Protein7.3 g/100g11.6 g/100g12.5 g/100g7.7 g/100g6.2 g/100g8.3 g/100g
Carbohydrates72.0 g/100g67.5 g/100g70.4 g/100g67.0 g/100g65.5 g/100g  65.9 g/100g
Fibers3.6 g/100g1.2 g/100g2.2 g/100g7.6 g/100g9.8 g/100g9.0 g/100g
Energy328 kcal/100g361 kcal/100g341 kcal/100g341 kcal/100g  307 kcal/100g309 kcal/100g
Calcium200 mg/100g42 mg/100g14 mg/100g17 mg/100g20 mg/100g27 mg/100g
Iron25 ppm45.0-50.0 ppm0.8 mg/100g25 ppm5.0 mg/100g0.5 mg/100g
Thiamine0.42 mg/100g0.33 mg/100g 0.30 mg/100g0.33 mg/100g0.33 mg/100g  
Riboflavin0.19 mg/100g0.25 mg/100g 0.09 mg/100g0.10 mg/100g0.09 mg/100g
Niacin1.1 mg/100g2.3 mg/100g 3.2 mg/100g4.2 mg/100g2.0 mg/100g
Phosphorus283 mg/100g296 mg/100g206 mg/100g220 mg/100g280 mg/100g  188 mg/100g
Folic acid18.3 µg/100g45.5 µg/100g 9.0 µg/100g 23.1 µg/100g
β-carotene42 µg/100g132 µg/100g    
Zinc16 ppm30.0-35.0 ppm20 ppm   
Potassium5 mg/100g     

Values taken from the ICT Project ICAR documentation

The largest producer of these millets is India. Together with jowar, India contributes more than 19% of the millet production in the world.

Nutritionally, millets contribute hugely to the country’s economy and health.

Ragi, or finger millet, is the cheapest among all and is available at a price range almost equal to the wheat prices. However, the other millets might not come cheap, as their consumption is lower and production requires more effort.

Ragi is consumed hugely in different parts of South India and is one of the most prominently used food products in Karnataka, where it is used almost daily in many homes. Their favourites are Ragi balls, and there are a lot of other Ragi recipes that come in handy with the population. The climate is apt for a bowl of hot Ragi soup, and the constant demand is helpful in keeping the price down.

If in trouble, the black specked brown finger millets can be a very good nutritional option.


The current population of India is already around 1.7 billion, and feeding such a huge economy is an everyday challenge. Keeping everything within your budget is a struggle every family faces on an individual level. Hereby, in this article, we determine the health benefits of different staple diets available all across the world and also suggest ways of saving a lot every month by closely monitoring the health needs of your family, choosing the right staple crop, and also by understanding the growing dearth the world is facing at such times.


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