The Golden Grain of the Andes: Are You Ready to Cook?
By The Editors
The Golden Grain of the Andes — quinoa — is being praised all around the world. Indeed, the year 2013 is “The International Year of the Quinoa”, which celebrates not only quinoa, but also the indigenous peoples of the Andes, who have maintained, controlled, protected and preserved quinoa as food for present and future generations, thanks to their traditional knowledge and practices of living in harmony with nature.
A few days ago, in a speech dedicated to the introduction of “Quinoa in the Kitchen“, José Graziano da Silva (FAO Director-General), said “Quinoa is part of the effort to recover these lost foods and to promote traditional and forgotten crops. It is also part of the idea that food is not only a commodity. It is a lot more than that. It is also culture, it is also taste, it is also a lot of things that are closely related to our history,”
According to the new publication “Quínoa is apparently flawless: it’s a food packed with protein and energy and, at the same time, is very easy to digest; post-harvest processing requires a lot of hard work, but, once it’s ready to sell, Quinoa is easy to keep, just as easy to cook and fast enough too for the pace of contemporary living. It’s also very versatile and, just like “real” cereals, can play different roles — in salads and side-dishes, in soups, patties and bread. And in its zones of origin it’s even used to make a chicha, the generic name given to all drinks made from sugared, fermented cereals.”
This new publication is the result of a collaboration between the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Slow Food, as these two organizations share a vision of a sustainable world — a world free from hunger and that safeguards biodiversity for future generations.
The collaboration between FAO and Slow Food originates from their common goals and their mutual interest to promote the wealth of local gastronomic traditions in defense of food biodiversity and in support of smallholder farmers and producers.
Quinoa is higher in protein than wheat, corn or rice, and it contains vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that are important to human nutrition and otherwise not present all together in just one food source.
In these cold days, try the quinoa and spinach soup (from Quinoa in the Kitchen):
Serves 4 — 1 cup quinoa, 2 cups water, 1 white onion, 5 bunches of spinach roughly chopped, 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, soy sauce, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
In a pan soften the onion in the oil and water for 5 minutes, adding the cumin seeds halfway through. Rinse the quinoa and brown lightly. Add water, bring to boil and cook for 30 minutes. Add the salt and spinach and cook for another 3 minutes. Flavor with soy sauce.
This post goes along with the one on family farming. My guess is that quinoa farmers are all family farmers. And all of this goes along with the major issue of traditional knowledge and how to preserve it. The FAO and Slow Food should be commended for all their efforts along these lines. A little at a time quinoa is becoming more and more common in North America, but I’m not sure about other continents. I read quinoa does not grow easily in different climates. Just wondering whether or not family farming is able to meet an increased quinoa demands, if quinoa only grows in South America. May be the traditional quinoa farmers should tour the world teaching other family farmers, in appropriate climates and soil types, how to grow it.