2013 Was Actually the Year of Quinoa

Marina Koren
National Journal

This year has been one of the least productive years in history in Washington. Between bungled or stalled policy initiatives and a government shutdown, moving the needle on progress on either side proved nearly impossible.

One player did have a good year (aside from Chris Christie). According to the United Nations, 2013 was the year of quinoa, a highly nutritious, centuries-old grain.

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In February, the U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization declared 2013 the international year of quinoa, not for the grain's place in Western society as a healthy, even upscale ingredient that's tough to pronounce, but for its impact on food security around the world.

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Quinoa contains many essential amino acids and vitamins, and can grow in a variety of climates. Planting and cultivating quinoa in areas of extreme poverty eases hunger and malnutrition, the U.N. group explains, and could eventually give rise to a new crop industry.

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The price of quinoa, often called "the miracle grain of the Andes" for its origins, has tripled since 2006, The Guardianreported early this year. Its popularity in nations where the crop is not indigenous, like the U.S., has pushed costs up enough so that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia can no longer afford it. Still, Peru and Bolivia are among the list of South American nations funding this year's promotional campaign of quinoa.

In the United States, the concept of quinoa as a "super food" is at least a few years old. The grain's versatility, as well as its recent recognition as a food craze, will keep it on the world stage for years to come. 

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