Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Global Food News: the UN dubs 2013 the International Year of Quinoa

Quinoa is versatile, nutrient-dense, and delicious

Uncooked quinoa
Cultivating quinoa

Yesterday in Rome, at the opening of FAO 's governing Council, Bolivian president Evo Morales was named the Special Ambassador to FAO for 2013: the International Year of Quinoa. Quinoa, widely regarded as a "superfood," is seeing a surge in popularity worldwide; and the UN is now encouraging its further cultivation and consumption, as a means to alleviate global hunger, as stated in the FAO press release:
Quinoa is a highly nutritious, cereal-like crop that is rich in protein and micronutrients. It was of great nutritional importance to pre-Colombian Andean civilizations, second only to the potato. The International Year of Quinoa aims to attract global attention to the role of this crop in support of food security, nutrition and poverty eradication.
Here's a quick snapshot of quinoa's history and health benefits:


Quinoa is a pseudocereal. It is grain-like, but the plant is not a grass, as true cereals are, and the edible portion is actually a seed.

Period of cultivation:

Archeologists estimate that quinoa began being consumed and cultivated by humans between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago. It was dubbed "the mother of all grains" by the Incas.

Region of cultivation:

Quinoa was first grown in the Andes (and the highest quality quinoa still comes from Bolivia, Peru, and Chile), but it is currently being grown in other parts of the world, such as the US, Canada, and Australia. Quinoa is best grown at higher elevations (2,500 to 4,000 m); in areas with sandy, well-drained soils; and in cooler climates; but it is also a highly adaptable and sturdy plant.


Quinoa is extremely high in protein for a plant-based food, at 14 grams of protein per 100 grams (3.5 oz) of total weight.

Quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids and is an excellent source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Quinoa is an excellent source of fiber (7 grams of fiber per 100 grams of total weight)

Quinoa's fats (6 grams per 100 grams of total weight) are largely polyunsaturated (Note: it has a higher fat content than true grains, and should be stored in a cool place to prevent rancidity)

Cooking with quinoa:

Quinoa can be cooked like any grain. When cooked, it has a light, fluffy texture.

A few sources for quinoa recipes:





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