You may be asking yourself: what is Quinoa and where did it come from? First of all, while it may look like a grain, quinoa is actually a variety of seed. Its plant is genetically close to both spinach and amaranth. Quinoa is often compared to grains because it can substitute them and it shares nutritional similarities with grains. However, it is actually a more healthy option than typical grains. Quinoa is rich in fiber, B vitamins, many minerals, and it also contains a lot of protein. Due to this great nutrient profile, the United Nations has recognized Quinoa as a significant tool in the fight against world hunger and malnutrition. 2013 was declared a year of recognition and celebration of quinoa and the indigenous communities that produce it. So where does this wonderful little food come from?

Quinoa was first cultivated in the region around Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia. As you may know GoGo Quinoa partners with cultivators in Bolivia that honour traditional fair-trade practices. You can read more about GoGo’s partnerships and sourcing here. There is archaeological evidence that quinoa was grown as early as 5000 years ago in Peru, Bolivia, and northern Chile. For many centuries, quinoa was a very important crop for Andean cultures in those areas as well as in present day Colombia and Ecuador. Quinoa played an important and well documented role in the legendary Inca Empire’s agriculture. Each year the emperor would plant the first seeds of the year in a ceremony. Arriving to the region in the 1500s Spanish explorers documented widespread cultivation of quinoa throughout the Andes. Some Europeans attempted to bring quinoa seeds to Europe, but they died in transport and were unable to germinate. In an effort to destroy local cultures in some regions, the Spanish attempted to end the cultivation of quinoa. As a result, its production declined during the next few centuries.

In the 1970s, quinoa began to experience a resurgence as did the celebration of the native cultures that first cultivated it. Today, the cultivation of quinoa has reached more advanced levels than ever. Different plants are used for different purposes such as extra yield, cold resistance, excess humidity resistance, drought resistance, and more. Different types of quinoa also exist that are more suited to varying forms of consumption such as soups and salads, making flour, or toasting. Currently, quinoa is seeing its popularity continually rise, even in regions far from its home such as Europe and North America. Interest in eating healthily has never been higher and this will continue to fuel demand for quinoa. The increasing demand for quinoa that is responsibly and sustainably produced will continue to benefit the Andean communities that cultivate it as well as the health of those who consume it. The next time you’re at the supermarket look for GoGo Quinoa to try something new, delicious, and nutritious. . If you need recipes and preparation inspiration click here!

Written by Michael Rosenston.