Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) has been cultivated in the Andes for over 5,000 years and was the staple food of the Inca civilisation.
It is an annual herb (not a cereal) that grows from three to six feet high, with seeds in large clusters at the end of the stalk. When cooked the seeds have a fluffy consistency and a delicate, nutty flavour.
Now classed as a superfood, quinoa is high in protein, calcium and iron and contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids. This reclassification has seen quinoa promoted from a basic foodstuff like maize or potatoes to the "food of the astronauts" due to its strong nutritional value.
The quinoa plant is also tough and durable - being able to grow high up in the Andean plateaus, some 3.500 metres above sea level. It is one of the few crops that can survive in the harsh environment of low rainfall, high altitude, cold air, hot sun and poor soil.
We are proud to have quinoa as one of the products we support through fair trade finance. Although it only represents a small percentage of our lending right now, we are hoping this will grow as we diversify further into different products.
Andean Naturals is helping Bolivian farmers achieve a fair price for this premium product. We hope you enjoy their story.