ADAMS COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — In a field along Biglerville Road, not far from Gettysburg, a millet crop ripens in the sun.

Did you know the United Nations has named 2023 the International Year of Millets?

Not bad for something many Americans associate with bird feed.

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Millets are cereal, grains that belong to the Poaceae (grass) family. There are a number of different types of millet; some you may find in the grocery store are Sorghum Millet, Finger Millet, Kodo Millet, Foxtail Millet (one of the oldest varieties), Pearl Millet, Proso Millet, Little Millet, Amaranth Millet, and Buckwheat Millet.

In fact, millet was one of the first grains cultivated by human beings. Although eclipsed in popularity in many places by corn, wheat, and rice, interest in the grain has grown recently, due to its health benefits for human beings, and for the environment.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “Millets can grow on arid lands with minimal inputs and are resilient to changes in climate. They are therefore an ideal solution for countries to increase self-sufficiency and reduce reliance on imported cereal grains.”

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future takes note of millet’s diversity:

“…While many cereal grains have been extensively bred, reducing their genetic diversity, millets have retained an incredibly diverse genetic pool. This means that millets can still be bred in new ways to produce varietals that are less vulnerable to disease and shifting climate conditions in the future.”

The nutritional values of millet are many. They are gluten-free and high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants. They provide more essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) than most other cereals. Millets are also rich in calcium.

The two most common ways to prepare millets are to boil them in water like rice, or grind them into flour and use them for – well, pretty much anything you use flour for. The internet is awash in sites about millets, so finding helpful hints and recipes should be a cinch.