5 questions about quinoa
Superfood or health hype? There are lots of stories about quinoa. But one thing is certain: it’s a nutritious crop that’s full of protein and is wind and weather resistant. And it needs far less water than rice or wheat. Quinoa could therefore play an important role if the world’s population continues to grow and the climate continues to warm up. That’s why we have five questions and answers about quinoa.
1. What is quinoa?
Quinoa is a very ancient crop; it 's been cultivated in the Andes since 5,000 BC by pre-Columbian peoples. It was (alongside potatoes and maize) the Incas’ staple food. Quinoa is not a grain, but a herbaceous plant of the amaranth family (like sugar beet). The ‘flower’ of the plant is featherlike with little spherical white, red or black seeds: quinoa as you know it on your plate.
2. Why is quinoa the ‘food of the future’?
Quinoa is a sustainable, nutritious and resistant crop which can be grown in different climate zones. Also in Belgium by the way.
- Low water footprint: it requires 5 times less water than rice and half as much as wheat to produce quinoa.
- Lots of protein: quinoa contains all the essential amino-acids you need. It is an excellent source of protein.
- Lots of fibre: since quinoa is a good source of fibre, you're sated more quickly and take longer to feel hungry again.
- Disease-resistant: the crop suffers from few diseases.
- Stress-resistant: quinoa can resist frost, drought and saline soil very well. So it can be grown in many regions.
3. How do we make quinoa production more sustainable?
As part of ‘Wanted: Food for the Future’, we’ve set up a chain project in Peru, in the Ayacucho region. Over 309 small farmers grow quinoa and are assisted by the Solid Food Peru commercial and social organisation. Solid Food Peru buys the quinoa from the farmers at a fair price. Colruyt pays an additional premium which Solid reinvests in utensils in order to ease the work of the farmers (for instance weeding machines).
The organisation looks after the logistics, processing and packaging. It then sells the quinoa to Colruyt Group and we transport the crop by sea. This cooperation means the farmers in Ayacucho get additional income and a permanent sales market in Belgium. Solid Food Peru reinvests the profits in social projects in the local community.Read more
4. Where can I buy Peruvian quinoa?
You can find 500g boxes of Boni Selection tricolour quinoa and white quinoa from Ayacucho in Colruyt, OKay, Bio-Planet and Spar. In the tricolour version, white, red and black quinoa have been mixed together to give a colourful and delicious result.
5. How do I use quinoa?
Quinoa is naturally delicious in salads as a grain substitute, but you can also make breakfast cereals, bread or pasta with it. And it’s ideal for particular groups of people! Did you know that quinoa is naturally gluten-free? Vegetarians can eat it as a meat substitute. Many diabetic patients also include it in their diets: quinoa is a good source of fibre and can therefore help to prevent peaks in blood sugar levels. Do you have a baby or toddler at home? They’ll certainly love quinoa.
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.