By now you probably know about Quinoa, and probably know how to pronounce it (boy did I used to be wrong). There’s a bit of a freak out about the super food de jour. The increase in price for the not-quite-a-grain has lead to massive changes in almost every aspect of the life of the people who grow quinoa. The terrors that rapid injections of foreign capital can unleash are rearing their head. Traditional social structures cannot survive in the face of new found wealth. Quinoa is too expensive to eat when it could be sold to foreigners, so rapid changes to the local’s diets are taking place. Predictably, the new diets are not healthy ones. The pressure for higher crop yields also stress out the environment of these regions, as well as the workers. It is a sad and familiar story.
EDIT: Atlantic Media is steeling my content!!! :EDIT
But quinoa is also a crop grown on farms owned by largely poor, indigenous peoples, and they are seeing their income shoot up rapidly. Global capitalism is finally giving them a piece of the pie, many argue. I personally believe that quinoa consumption is great. If you require certifications for labor and or environmental concerns, there are many products on the market out there for you, though at a bit of a premium.
But lets say you feel guilty about all the of negative impacts that quinoa consumption is having and you want to eliminate or decrease your consumption. Or maybe you only like quinoa because it is trendy, and you just want to stay on top of your food trends. Or maybe you are a simply looking for more super food diversity. Well I got a fun little list for you!
Teff: Its African, its gluten-free, and, “one serving of dry teff (a quarter-cup) offers 7 grams of protein, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 25 percent of your daily recommended magnesium, 20 percent of your daily iron and 10 percent of your daily calcium, Vitamin B6 and zinc. ” It has a “mildly nutty flavor” and when cooked on a stove top with water it turns into a kind of porridge.
Amaranth: This plant has been around for a while in health food stores, it just hasn’t had its time in the sun. It is a whole grain, gluten-free, its from Central America and southern Mexico. It is eaten a bit like quinoa, and has even more protein, but it is currently more expensive.
Fonio: This is a West African millet that is, “gluten-free and nutritious because of two amino acids, cystine and methionine…” It is hard to get in the United States, mostly because of demand. But if you can find it, you can be sure it is almost certainly grown under fair labor circumstances, often by women’s collectives.
Chia: The very same seed you once put in an odd pot because someone gave you a crappy gift is now a super food. The secret is a little bit out about these guys, but they haven’t hit critical mass. I have a good deal of experience with these guys, and you can even buy them at most Costco stores. I say the best thing to do is to put them in hot water and watch what the seeds do, its pretty cool. I’m sure you can cook with them and I know that Chia flour is a thing. I don’t prefer to chew them, though that is a thing to do.
Hemp Seeds: Hemp is back! Not so much because of its ties to the flower harvest, but because it is tasty and nutritious. I have nothing but good things to say about these guys. Usually imported from British Columbia, they are a good salad garnish and they go well with homemade granola. They made any hippie food better, but I know that you, dear reader, can find any high minded purpose for the seeds that you set out to.