2013: International Year of Quinoa

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 16 September 2013

One of our favourite cruelty-free foods has an entire year officially dedicated to it! Here’s how you can enjoy this super seed – and how to buy it sustainably.

2013 is the International Year of Quinoa

What is quinoa?

Quinoa is actually pronounced ‘keen-wa’, and it is a protein-rich seed native to South America. A delicious addition to any meal, quinoa is often used in place of rice, and can be enjoyed in savoury or sweet dishes. It’s also a great option for Meat Free Monday recipes if you are reducing the amount of meat you eat or if you’ve decided to take animals off the menu altogether.

Quinoa is the only plant food that contains all the essential amino acids we require from food, plus vitamins and trace elements — and it’s also gluten-free.

Cooked quinoa can be used as a delicious alternative to rice
Quinoa can be used as a delicious alternative to rice

What is the International Year of Quinoa?

The United Nations created the International Year of Quinoa in recognition of the indigenous peoples of the Andes, who have been growing the seed for thousands of years, and who have carefully protected it as a food crop for generations to come. The International Year of Quinoa is also aimed at raising awareness of quinoa’s importance as a potential contributor to global food security, and ensuring its conservation and sustainable use worldwide.

United Nations promotional photo showing quinoa being grown and harvested in the Andes
Photo: United Nations

How to cook with quinoa

You can use quinoa as an alternative to rice or pasta, and as the base for a wide range of healthy recipes. Here are just a few!

Moroccan  Roast Vegetables with Quinoa
Moroccan Roast Vegetables with Quinoa
(Photo: Foodwise)

Popped Quinoa Nut Bar
Popped Quinoa Nut Bar
(Photo: MioViva)

Food security and sustainability

Because quinoa is such an important traditional food for people in the Andes, the growing global demand for it has the potential to affect supply: increasing prices and encouraging export over local consumption. One reason the United Nations launched the International Year of Quinoa is to develop ways to make sure this issue is managed sustainably.

So, when choosing quinoa, you might like to buy Australian grown — although it is still a very new commercial crop here. Kindred Organics grow quinoa in Tasmania, and you can buy their products from several stockists, including online, here.

Alter Eco quinoaIf you choose imported quinoa, there are several Fairtrade options available in Australia. Fairtrade programs help to ensure that quinoa producers are paid a fair amount for their produce and that local communities benefit from the industry. You can find Fairtrade quinoa in Oxfam shops and online, with both white and red available.

Do you cook with quinoa? What’s your favourite cruelty-free quinoa recipe? Let us know in the comments below.