Quinoa, that tiny seed that goes so very well with kale, has humble origins in the Andean mountains. It’s come a long way since then, and 2013 is even the United Nations’ International Year of Quinoa. You’d think Bolivians in particular would be thrilled, but then quinoa’s boom hasn’t been all delicious salads and healthy living.
The effects of the boom have led to joy on the one hand, as Westerners declared love for their new favorite superfood — “hell yeah, quinoa!” — while some in the Andean region have reportedly suffered as this regional staple gained worldwide attention. Recently, Bolivian president Evo Morales, a leftist who is pals with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, began claiming that Western corporations sought to stop the UN from celebrating quinoa with the “Year of Quinoa” designation.
And he didn’t stop there. Morales blames Western fast food for causing a rise in cancer and obesity rates worldwide, and says that the corporations behind large-scale food production are hindering the growth of the highly nutritious and hardy-growing grain. He describes quinoa as “a food for current generations and future generations,” emphasizing its nutritional benefits, ability to grow in harsh conditions and positive effect on burgeoning economies.
Year Of Quinoa co-founder, UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, hardly disagrees. He recently told the UN General Assembly, “I hope this international year will be a catalyst for learning about the potential of quinoa for food and nutrition security, for reducing poverty — especially among the world’s small farmers — and for environmentally sustainable agriculture.”
So it appears that all is right in the quinoa universe again, and that eating it is less a political act than a healthy and potentially delicous one. Here’s how to cook it: just like rice. And here are a few recipe ideas to kick off the International Year of Quinoa: