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50 countries beyond the Andes. As a result, the cloud of uncertainty that has enveloped this grain for more than four centuries is beginning to disappear.
Indeed, quinoa seems like a grain of the future. Already demand is rising in the United States. Boxes of grain, flour, or pasta can now be bought in health food stores and supermarkets from Los Angeles to Boston. More than 750 tons of quinoa grain were sold in 1988, most of it imported from South America. Quinoa has been widely featured in newspaper and magazine accounts of promising new foods for the American dinner table. It is generating similar enthusiasm among consumers in Switzerland, and seems likely to do so in many more countries.
Andean Region. With recent advances in commercial methods for removing the bitter ingredients, a major impediment to expanding quinoa utilization is being overcome. The plant is well adapted to many parts of the Andes where the need for more food and a better nutritional balance is great. It seems likely that quinoa will become ever more important in diets of both the highland villagers and urban settlers. Because it is now primarily a food of campesinos and poorer classes, increasing its production is a good way to improve the diets of the most needy sector of society.
Quinoa also shows export potential. The most desirable varieties are currently best adapted to cultivation in the Andean region itself, and the long-term prospects for quinoa exports, although uncertain, seem promising.
Increased foreign demand for quinoa has not always meant increased production within the Andes. (Reportedly, supply has remained static while prices increased.) Decision makers throughout the region should ensure that production increases to fill overseas demand, and that poor people get the maximum benefit from quinoa as both a food crop and a cash crop.
Other Developing Areas. Quinoa seems particularly promising for improving life and health in marginal upland areas. It probably could be cultivated in highland tropical regions, such as elevated parts of Ethiopia, the Himalayas, and Southeast Asia. The malted grains and flour hold promise as a weaning food for infants, and it is noteworthy that child malnutrition is common in many of these areas. Also, quinoa is one of the best leaf-protein-concentrate sources.