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Thursday, 7 February 2013

What is Quinoa and how is it pronounced?

I visited Nuffield Scholar Rens Kuitjen in the Netherlands. Rens study topic is “Establishing a Quinoa industry in the Netherlands

Quinoa (pronounced Kinwa) is a broadleaf crop that is in the Chenopod (Goosefoot) family and has been grown as a food source in South America since the time of the Incas. It is extremely high in protein and is gluten free. These attributes are increasingly making it a sought after food in Western countries. Rens has traveled to Bolivia, which is the hub of research into this crop, and to Canada where it is also now grown. The United Nations have actually proclaimed this as the Year of Quinoa.

My interest was sparked in Quinoa because of the extremely harsh low rainfall climates that some of the varieties are capable of growing in. Rens had pictures of Quinoa crops that were growing on the shores of salt lakes at 4000m elevation. The look of the countryside reminded me of the landscape around  Lake Ayre in South Australia. Growing at that altitude it is also extremely frost tolerant. Currently Bolivian farmers are selling the cleaned and washed product for $2400/t into the US market.

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