Over the past decade, the “Andean superfood” has turned out to be a peak product for First World foodies. Often mistaken for a granule, quinoa is in fact a chenopod (cousin to a beet); rich in minerals, it’s the vegetable that’s absolute protein stuff.
To the added enjoyment of politically accurate health nuts, it’s formed by small-scale Andean farmers like Huarachi who get direct benefits of its global popularity. Recently, those benefits have risen so fast, quinoa’s price has been tripled since 2006, triggering a bang in the poorest district of South America’s poorest country.
Now we’ve obtained tractors for our fields and parabolic antennas for our homes. This has been stated by Huarachi, who’s one of the board members of Bolivia’s biggest quinoa-growers association, ANAPQUI.
As per stated by historians, quinoa cultivation started in the Altiplano around 3,000 B.C. According to the legends, it was a gift from the gods to the native Aymara: an extremely nutritious crop as little compensation for being saddled with one of harshest climates of the earth.
(It’s a simple story to believe, since just divine intervention seems to clarify how anything could grow from the high plateau’s rocky, filthy soil.)
The present from the heavens has always been a support of the Andean diet, but only lately did the crop start its global journey. In 1993, NASA researchers suggested it as part of a possible space-colony diet.
Over the following decade, this gained wider plea, going from hippie publicity to Costco convenient practically overnight. Quinoa is in the eye of the storm, according to the Bolivian-born Sergio Núñez del Arco, originator of Andean Naturals, the U.S.’s biggest quinoa importer, explaining that the product fit about each fresh health craze: whole grain, gluten-free, fair trade, organic.
Around half the world’s supply is now being cultivated in Bolivia. (Peru is a close next, Ecuador third.) “We worked hard to maintain quinoa out of the hands of middlemen, said by ANAPQUI’s general secretary Ciprian Mayorga in the association’s processing plant, the entry to which is now manned by an armed personal security guard.
Members’ harvests get there there, where a careful washing removes the seeds’ bitter outer coating before its direct export to the Europe and USA. Strong growers’ unions have also maintained multinational agro companies at bay. Production remains relations based, average plots range from 1 to 15 hectares (2.5 to 37 acres).