This cereal that made its apparition on the European market these last years is in reality originate from the Andes. The archaeological researches show that its utilization in the high plains of the Andes began 5000 years ago. Indeed, like potato, its resistance to extremes climatic conditions allowed its culture between 2500 m and 4000 m of altitude, in lands particularly poor and hard to till.
The quinoa is a feed extremely rich and complete: its protein content (between 16 and 23%) is twice higher than other kind of cereals and it’s also very rich in calcium, phosphor and iron.
The lack of gluten in its components make the digestion easier, precious characteristic at these high altitudes. Traditionally, fermented quinoa is used to do chicha, this Andean typical drink. They also use it in a medicinal way; it is said that quinoa could cure hemorrhage, abscess and luxation. It is also used in Andean traditional rites like offerings to Pachamama.
Since 1970, the European countries started to import quinoa and it became the symbol of organic and fair trade but the consequences are much mitigated. The price rise induced by the opening of the international market has been passed on the local market and the local consummation of this cereal is now falling. Moreover, the economic opportunity it’s represent reoriented the entire local production on this unique sector; specialization entailing monoculture and all the problems that this create (environmental, social pressure approach to lands, abandon of lamas breeding or other plants necessary to the local dietary balance.