Quinoa is a crop of considerable antiquity, having been harvested by the Andean civilizations for over 5,000 years. It was first domesticated in southern central Chile, probably between 3400 and 3200 BC. The Incas began to cultivate it more extensively about 2000 BC. The seeds are now an important food crop in many countries because they are gluten-free, high in protein, and contain all eight essential amino acids.
The leaves of quinoa are edible and taste similar to spinach, while the seeds can be used as a substitute for cereal grains such as rice or wheat. It is high in protein, an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and contains a number of phytochemicals and antioxidants. Quinoa was not produced in the United States until the early 1980s, but production has increased steadily to nearly 50 thousand acres. Quinoa is used as a cereal grain garnish, in soups and salads or ground into flour for baking. In recent years, it has been used in the manufacture of pasta and breakfast cereals, as well as snacks.
It is an annual herbaceous plant that can reach up to 3 meters (9.8 feet) in height, depending on the race. Its thick cylindrical stalk can be straight or branching and bears alternate leaves that range from lanceolate (tapering to a point) to roughly triangular. It is only one of the 11 species of the genus Chenopodium, but it is classified to be considered separate from other chenopods.
Quinoa grows best in areas with cool temperatures ranging between 12 °C (53.6 °F) and 36 °C (96.8 °F), suitable for growing at or above 2,400 meters (7,900 ft) above sea level. It is an extremely versatile plant that adapts easily to different climates and soil conditions, growing well in regions with poor soil fertility or limited water supplies.
Quinoa is an Andean grain crop that has been cultivated for its edible seeds. It is popular as healthy food and has recently gained attention as a trendy superfood. Quinoa was domesticated in the Andes thousands of years ago and today it's considered to be one of the most important cereal crops in South America. Over the past few years, quinoa has also gained popularity in North America and Europe.
In 2017, the global production volume of quinoa amounted to about 146 thousand metric tons. In the following three years, this figure increased to more than 175 thousand metric tons. Statista's chart shows the import production volume for selected countries around the world from 2011 to 2017.