Quinoa was revered as the ‘Mother of all grains’ by the Incas. However, it’s history is much older with grains found in ancient tombs in the Ayuchucho region (where our quinoa is grown), suggesting domestication began over 5,000 years ago. It is a Peruvian native plant, and we are securing quality heirloom stock from an Ayuchuchan farmer collective in the High-Andes Mountains.
The grain’s exceptional nutritional qualities led US Space Agency, NASA, to include it in astronauts’ diets on long space missions.
“While no single food can supply all the essential life sustaining nutrients, quinoa comes as close as any other in the plant or animal kingdom”
(NASA Technical Paper 3422 (1993), from White et al, 1955).
Native quinoa is expected to have evolved in the Lake Titicaca region, on the Peru/Bolivian border. However, the first recorded domestication of this high-altitude crop was in the Ayucucho region over 5,000 years ago, the present-day home to our partner farmer collectives.
This crop provided an important staple for high-altitude communities, where rice and corn would not grow. By the time of the Incan Empire beginning in the 13th Century, this crop was elevated to a sacred status, and became a fundamental part of Incan life.
Ethical Trading Co and our partners are working closely with local communities to ensure that the rising prices of quinoa translate to sustainable development opportunities for communities, including diversification of crops and community-driven social and environmental programmes.
Our white and red quinoa comes from a farmer collective of around 20 growers in Sachabamba town in Chiara District, Ayacucho.
The recent history of this town is compelling. Back in the 80’s this region was severely affected by terrorism violence, particularly from the terrorist group, Shining Path. Many inhabitants of this town migrated to Lima and other big cities in search of peace and a better quality of life.
Due to the situation, most of the lands were rested for almost 10 years. This condition made these lands more fertile. History made a drastic turn in the mid 90’s when the country reached pacification.
Old inhabitants and their heirs started migrating back to their town. They re-discovered agriculture as a way of life and resumed growing ancient produce such as quinoa, potatoes, and kiwicha until today.
Flamboyant quinoa RED catches the eye and holds it’s shape throughout cooking, making for a perfect salad element. With an earthy, nutty flavour, quinoa red strongly reflects quinoa’s signature flavour.
Pristine quinoa WHITE is a favourite of time-conscious chefs as it cooks faster and is softer than it’s flamboyant sister product, quinoa red. With a mild flavour, quinoa white quietly exposes quinoa’s versatility.
Vibrant quinoa ISKAY (“two” in the Quechuan language, spoken by the growers of the Ayacucho region) is as flavorsome as it is attractive, combining red & white forms and flavours. With it’s earthy, nutty flavour, iskay reflects quinoa’s heirloom heritage.