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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Quinoa: Harmful or Healthy

Photograph: George Steinmetz/Corbis guardianews.com
I like carbohydrates as much as the next person but when I tire of brown rice and whole wheat bread, I love to turn to quinoa as a nice alternative. Technically quinoa is a seed rather than a grain. It is a good source for carbohydrates, and has a high amount of protein when compared to traditional grains. I read two articles last week that brought up some of the social issues that we should think about when eating quinoa.

The first article  from The Guardian is written by  Dan Collyns. He points out that the price of quinoa has tripled since 2006. I would assume this is good for farmers and producers. He does a good job of discussing the pros and cons for the producers. They are getting more money for their crop, but they are less likely to consume quinoa because they can sell for such a high premium.

The second article on the same site is written by


Anonymous said...

My hubby is a celiac, and with limited diet choices, I am thankful that quinoa is available and it is a regular part of our diet. The social issues in our case are over ridden by hubby's health issues.

marisa said...

Anonymous, great point!

Molly said...

I've been following this lately in part because I work in Latin American Studies, and in part because I love quinoa! I much prefer it to rice regardless of the health benefits. It is such a complicated topic, even beyond those two articles (which I read just a couple days ago). The crop is bringing in a lot more money to the countries, people were already starting to choose less healthy options of rice and pasta and processed foods because they are cheap and a novelty, and many view quinoa as a "peasant" food and want to eat fancier foods (like the processed stuff). There really are so many angles to this problem. Do we all stop eating it and deny their countries that huge income? Do we keep buying it and support them but contribute to worse nutrition and higher prices for them? I'd love to know the answer! I know people in California are trying their hand at growing it in their yards. I'd love to try. Have you ever tried growing it?

Dale Johnson said...


I never heard of this stuff. The first question that always comes to my mind is “Why don’t we grow it in the U.S.?” I researched the growing conditions. High altitudes, cool nights, warm days, sandy well-drained soils, pH of 6.0-8.5, 110-150 days to maturity, good moisture (irrigation) during the early growth and dry during seed development and harvest. Sounds perfect for the high valleys, benches, and plateaus of the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevadas. Yield is about a ton per acre. With a conservative market value of $3,000/ton, it seems like a great alternative to the wheat, barley, oats, hops, canola, and hay grown in those areas and that generate less than half that income. I am probably missing something or we would be growing it by now.

Uncle Dale

Charlotte Crawley said...

Interesting post. But I have not heard of quinoa.

Mike said...

Anonymous: I am also glad that you have quinoa available for your husband's diet.

Molly: This is a very complicated issue and this article just touches on a few of the issues. I hope to try to grow quinoa this year. I'm not sure if it gets too hot here but it will be fun to try.

Dale: I do wonder why quinoa isn't grown here in the US. I have read that it is very sensitive to temperature.

Charlotte: I will post some recipes for quinoa so you can try it. I get it at whole foods in the bulk bins but you can even get it at some of the big box stores.