2013 is The UN International Year of Quinoa!

Gluten Free – High protein – Low carbohydrate

…and the only complete protein plant food – we all love Quinoa! (pronounced keen-wah)

Quinoa at markets 

What’s fascinating is the story of this crop’s rise to international stardom. It was recently announced by the UN that 2013 is the International Year of Quinoa. Fancy that!

Bolivia is the largest grower of Quinoa in the world…but this humble crop used to be a subsistence crop. Time Magazine’s Jean Friedman-Rudovsky has done a great job telling Quinoa’s story in the article: ‘Quinoa: The Dark side of an Andean Superfood’. Jump over and read the full article yourself. Tip: make a big cup of tea before you do, it’s great reading.


On the value of Quinoa:
“In 1983, 100 lb. of quinoa sold for 25 bolivianos — the price a T-shirt. Now that sack goes for $100 [700 bolivianos]. That’s a lot of T-shirts.”

On the economic impact of the Quinoa boom:
Seventy percent of the region’s high school graduates can now afford to attend university, Huarachi says, “thanks to quinoa.”

The impact on society, all keen to get in on the Quinoa action:
For three days in February, hundreds of farmers fought over what was once abandoned land. Four people were temporarily kidnapped, dozens were injured and, according to local leader Nina, a dynamite blast left one man armless.

Environmental concerns are arising:
Traditionally, quinoa fields covered 10% of this fragile ecosystem, llamas grazed on the rest. Now, llamas are being sold to make room for crops, provoking a soil crisis since the cameloid’s guano is the undisputed best fertilizer for maintaining and restoring quinoa fields.

And most sadly, population health is on alert:
Growers themselves are eating less of their gift from the gods. Last year, the Bolivian government acknowledged that national quinoa consumption over the previous five years had decreased 34%. Now there’s worry of malnutrition in the quinoa heartland as growers admit that it’s tempting to sell their entire harvest while prices are high.

Very rarely does one country supply almost the global intake of an ingredient. We’ll keep you posted on the Quinoa story and how Bolivia adjusts to being the provider of the coolest food around.