Santiago, Chile – A tiny ancient grain found natively in all countries of the Andean region in South America has been given major recognition by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
The FAO and its regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean have declared 2013 to be the International Year of the Quinoa.
They say it’s to recognize the ancestral practices of the Andean people, who have managed to preserve quinoa in its natural state.
The International Year of the Quinoa (IYQ) was first proposed by the government of Bolivia, with support from Argentina, Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Georgia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and the FAO. The idea was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011.
Quinoa has exceptional nutritional qualities, is adaptable to different agro-ecological floors and has the potential to help in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.
The objective of the IYQ plan is to focus world attention on the role that quinoa’s biodiversity and nutritional value plays in providing food security and nutrition.
Quinoa was carefully guarded by the Andean people and today it is an invaluable legacy for humanity due to its unique characteristics: quinoa is the only vegetal food that has all the essential amino acids, trace elements and vitamins while being gluten free.
It can grow under the harshest conditions, withstanding temperatures from -8 ° C to 38 ° C, it can be grown from sea level up to 4,000 metres above sea level and it can withstand drought and poor soils.
Like the potato, quinoa was one of the main foods of the Andean peoples before the Incas.
Traditionally, quinoa grain are roasted and then made into flour, with which different types of breads are baked.
It can also be cooked, added to soups, used as a cereal, as pasta and even fermented to beer or chicha, the traditional drink of the Andes. When cooked it take on a nut-like flavour.