Have you jumped on the quinoa bandwagon yet? Light, fluffy and similar to couscous in texture and flavor, quinoa has become a trendy superfood in Western culture, with health and fitness gurus labeling it a nutritional powerhouse. As well as being non-GMO, gluten free and usually organically grown, this wholegrain food is loaded with protein, fibre, minerals plus thousands of other important trace nutrients. It’s hardly surprising, then, that the health conscious are making it their go-to ingredient for breakfast cereals, salads, risottos and even cookies.

But did you know that quinoa – pronounced ‘keen-wa’ - is actually an ancient grain that dates back thousands of years to the Andean region of Bolivia, Peru and Colombia? If you watched the episode on Peruvian farmer Zenón Gomel Apaza, you may have noticed his community cultivating the quinoa plant. In fact, quinoa was a sacred food for the Incas who called it their “mother grain” and they successfully cultivated this sturdy, drought-resistant crop at high altitudes. When the Spanish colonists arrived in the sixteenth century, they banned its cultivation, dismissing it as “food for Indians” and making the Incas grow European crops instead. Luckily, they were not successful in wiping it out and quinoa lives on as a tasty, healthy, easy-to-grow food for Quechua of the Andes that can now be enjoyed by non-native consumers around the globe. The United Nations even named the year 2013 “The International Year of Quinoa” for its high nutrient value and its potential to contribute to food security worldwide.
Feb 8, 2016
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