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Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), a relative of lamb's quarters, has been grown in the Andes since 3000 BC and before the Spanish conquest played a role similar to barley in the Old World. It is well-adapted to cold, dry climates. This pseudo cereal is considered ‘one of the world's most perfect foods.' In comparison to other cereal grains it has a higher protein content (14-18%) and a better amino acid composition. A bitter saponin in the outer seed coat must be removed by a polishing process before consumption. The current US recommended seeding rate is 1-1.5 million plants/ha. A good crop of quinoa can yield over 725 kg/acre (this has been achieved just west of Lacombe). Nitrogen is very influential for yield increases. Quinoa is a new product to the Canadian market; an estimated 130,000 pounds of quinoa were sold in Canadian food stores in 1990 and the figure is rising rapidly.
Young Quinoa plant
Photo by: V.Sowiak