Day 17 – Quinoa or quinua?

Day 17 – Quinoa or quinua?

Agronomist, Maria Cayoja of INIAF, shows 2 different varieties of quinoa coming from the mid-altiplano region of Bolivia.

Agronomist, Maria Cayoja of INIAF, shows 2 different varieties of quinoa coming from the mid-altiplano region of Bolivia.

In Bolivia, the sacred grain, is called quinua and pronounced keen’-oo-ah.  This name is a Spanish modification of the original Quechua name, kinwa (though quinua is mostly found in the Aymara speaking regions of Bolivia!). It’s scientific name is Chenopodium quinoa and it is related to amaranth and pigweed. To stay in line with international spelling, we will continue to refer to Bolivian quinua as quinoa.

Quinoa has been cultivated in the Andean region for over 3,000 years.  When the Spanish conquerors arrived 500 years ago, they saw it as “peasant or Indian food” and prohibited its cultivation, required people to instead grow the wheat which they brought to the region.  Never-the-less, quinoa production persisted.

Today there are hundreds of known varieties of quinoa en Bolivia ranging from all colors and sizes from the large, hardy Quinoa Real grown along Bolivia’s vast salt flats in the Southern Altiplano region to the sweeter, smaller varieties found in the mid and northern altiplano.

Characteristics of mid-altiplano quinoa - looser sead heads, and smaller seeds.

Characteristics of mid-altiplano quinoa – looser sead heads, and smaller seeds.

Known for its complete protein and high amino acid content, Bolivian quinoa also has saponins which are removed in he cleaning process (but also have industrial uses as natural cleaning agents and insecticides), and oil.  Depending on where the quinoa is produced, the oil, protein, saponin and calorie content of the quinoa will vary by as much as 10% or more.

Speak Your Mind

*