Quinoa: a grain whose time has come

    10 March, 2014


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.

    When a grain becomes popular worldwide, there are two main effects: farmers who grow the grain earn more in profits, and people who use it for food pay more.

    Quinoa, a grain native to South America has become popular in many areas in recent years. In fact, the United Nations General Assembly approved a declaration making 2013 the International Year of the Quinoa.

    Quinoa: a grain whose time has come
    Threshing quinoa

    Quinoa is a traditional food crop in the Andes Mountains. The plant grows in an area near Lake Titicaca, along the border of Peru and Bolivia. Historical evidence shows that local people were growing quinoa as far back as 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. During this period, they used both the seeds and leaves of this wild plant.

    There are many kinds of quinoa. The plant can be grown in different climates and it does not require a lot of water. Both the seeds and leaves can be used as food.

    The seed is the most commonly used part. Quinoa can be ground into flour or cooked whole. It is used in cereals, drinks and fresh salads. It can also be mixed with vegetables or beans for a full meal. The leaves and stems can also be used for medicinal purposes. Some people use them to reduce pain, heal wounds, and even keep insects away.

    Quinoa is full of amino acids and minerals. Amino acids are organic compounds that form protein. The body needs them to help break down food, and to grow, and repair tissue.

    The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization believes that quinoa can be used to fight hunger, and feed a growing world population. The reason is the high value of protein provided by quinoa.

    The crop has also become popular among those seeking healthier ways to eat. The center of the seed contains up to 45 percent protein.

    Quinoa is currently grown in more than 70 countries. Peru and Bolivia together produce 92 percent of the crop. The rest comes mainly from the United States, Ecuador, Canada and Argentina.

    Starting about 10 years ago, the popularity of Quinoa caused its price to rise quickly. Many Bolivian farmers have gained from this increase by earning more. They have been able to buy vehicles and other goods with the increased profits.

    However, other Bolivians have had to give up their main food because it costs too much. Instead, they are buying and cooking with other foods that are not as rich in healthy minerals and proteins.

    And that's the Agriculture Report from VOA Learning English. You can find more agriculture stories at our website 51voa.com. You can also leave comments at our website, or email them to us at learningenglish@voanews.com. I'm Christopher Cruise.