Nine years ago, when I first learned about quinoa, the headlines were all about how this little seed was chocked full of gluten-free protein, fiber and minerals. More recently, the discussion has turned towards the devastating ecological and socioeconomic impact on Andean farmers as driven by our high demand for this product. So I asked rhetorically, “Why the fux can’t the US grow this locally?” As it turns out, agricultural researchers are experimenting to mass produce this crop across the globe, but results have been a a mix of successes and failures.
I’m oversimplifying the issues at play here, but I’ll point out two major issues why growing quinoa has not taken off in the US. Firstly, we simply do not yet have all the infrastructure and knowledge base in place to properly produce quinoa. Secondly, quinoa is friggin hard to grow…period. It usually likes cold and dry environments and can suffered a host of problems. I say this with confidence, because I had some first hand experience growing a micro-batch rainbow quinoa this past year in zone 7. From the 3 surviving stalks, I was barely able to harvest 1.5 ounce of seeds. My plants barely survived the onslaught of leafminers, red rusts, and powerful storms that snapped several other stalks. Harvesting and cleaning was also a pain in the ass.
So, I’ve made a “new year’s” resolution. I will no longer buy the seeds or order any dish with quinoa. I won’t eat it unless I can grow it, but clearly, quinoa is not optimal for my area. This was really all a great learning experience, I’m really not crazy enough about this food to spend any more calories to continue experimentation on my homestead.
But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief, that thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.