Quinoa is a dicotyledonous, annual plant usually about 1–2 m high. It has broad, generally pubescent, powdery, smooth (rarely) to lobed leaves normally arranged alternately. The woody central stem is either branched or unbranched depending on the variety and may be green, red or purple. The panicles arise either from the top of the plant or from axils on the stem. The panicles have a central axis from which a secondary axis emerges either with flowers (amaranthiform), or bearing a tertiary axis carrying the flowers (glomeruliform). The green hypogynous flowers have a simple perianth and are generally bisexual and self-fertilizing. The fruits are about 2 mm in diameter and of various colours — from white to red or black depending on the cultivar.
Chenopodium quinoa (and a related species from Mexico, Chenopodium nuttalliae) is believed to have been domesticated in the Peruvian Andes from wild populations of Chenopodium quinoa. There are non-cultivated quinoa plants (Chenopodium quinoa var. melanospermum) which grow in the same area where it is cultivated; it is presumed that those are related to quinoa's wild predecessors, but they could instead be descendants of cultivated plants.
Quinoa in its natural state has a coating of bitter-tasting saponins, making it unpalatable. Most quinoa sold commercially in North America has been processed to remove this coating. This bitterness has beneficial effects during cultivation, as the plant is unpopular with birds and therefore requires minimal protection. Attempts to lower the saponin content of quinoa through selective breeding to produce sweeter, more palatable varieties have proven difficult due to cross pollination contamination.
The toxicity category rating of quinoa saponins treats them as mild eye and respiratory irritants and as a low gastrointestinal irritant. The saponin is a toxic glycoside, a main contributor to its hemolytic effects when combined directly with blood cells. In South America, Quinoa saponin has many uses outside of consumption, which includes detergent for clothing and washing, and as an antiseptic for skin injuries. High levels of oxalic acid in the leaves and stems are found in all species of the Chenopodium genus, but are also present in the related plant families of Polygonaceae and Amaranthaceae. The risks associated with quinoa are minimal, provided it is properly prepared and leaves are not eaten to excess.
Quinoa was first domesticated by the Andean peoples around 3000 years ago. Quinoa has been an important staple in the Andean cultures where the plant is indigenous but relatively obscure in the rest of the world. The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to quinoa as chisaya mama or "mother of all grains", and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using "golden implements". During the Spanish conquest of South America, the Spanish colonists scorned quinoa as "food for Indians", and even actively suppressed its cultivation, due to its status within indigenous religious ceremonies. In fact, the conquistadores forbade quinoa cultivation for a time and the Incas were forced to grow wheat instead.
|Export price USD/Kg||$0.080||$0.492||$0.854||$1.254||$3.029|
|Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) |
Quinoa has become increasingly popular in the United States, Europe, China and Japan where the crop is not typically grown, increasing crop value. Between 2006 and early 2013 quinoa crop prices have tripled. In 2011, the average crop value was $3,115 USD per ton with some varieties selling as high as $8,000 per ton. This compares with wheat prices of $9 per bushel (about $340 per ton). Since the 1970s, producers’ associations and cooperatives have worked toward greater producer control of the market.
The popularity of quinoa in non-indigenous regions has raised concerns over food security. Due to continued widespread poverty in regions where quinoa is produced, and because few other crops are compatible with the soil and climate in these regions, it is suggested that the inflated price of quinoa disrupts local access to food supplies. In 2013, The Guardian compared quinoa consumption to Peruvian asparagus, a popular Andean crop criticized for excessive water use, as "feeding our apparently insatiable 365-day-a-year hunger for this luxury vegetable[...]" It is also suggested that as people rise above subsistence level income, they choose higher status Western processed foods.
Quinoa is highly variable due to a high complexity of different subspecies, varieties and landraces (plants or animals adapted to the environment in which they originated). However, in general it is undemanding and altitude-hardy. It is grown from coastal regions (Chile) to over 4,000 m (13,120 ft) in the Andes near the equator. However, most of the cultivars are grown between 2,500 m and 4,000 m. Depending on the variety, Quinoa's optimal growing conditions are in cool climates with temperatures that range from 25°F/−3°C during the night, to near 95°F/35°C during the day. Some cultivars can also withstand lower temperatures without damage. Light frosts normally do not affect the plants at any stage of development, except during flowering. Mid-summer frosts often occurring in the Andes during flowering lead to sterilization of the pollen. Rainfall conditions are highly variable between the different cultivars, ranging from 300 to 1,000 mm during growing season. Optimal for Quinoa growth is well-distributed rainfall during early growth and development and dry conditions during seed maturation and harvesting.,
Quinoa does best in sandy, well-drained soils with a low nutrient content, moderate salinity, and a soil pH of 6 to 8.5.
The seedbed must be well prepared and drained to avoid waterlogging. Normally in the Andes, Quinoa seeds are broadcast over land and raked into the soil. Sometimes it is sown in narrow, shallow soils.
Yields are maximised when 150 to 180 lb N/acre is available. The addition of phosphorus does not improve yield. In eastern North America, it is susceptible to a leaf miner that may reduce crop success; this leaf miner also affects the common weed and close relative Chenopodium album, but C. album is much more resistant.
Quinoa is usually harvested by hand and rarely by machine, because the extremely variable maturity periods of native Quinoas complicates mechanization. Harvest needs to be precisely timed to avoid high seed losses from shattering, and different panicles on the same plant mature at different times. The seed yield (often around 3 t/ha up to 5 t/ha) is comparable to wheat yields in the Andean areas. Handling involves threshing the seedheads and winnowing the seed to remove the husk. Before storage, the seeds need to be dried in order to avoid germination.
|每 100 g (3.5 oz) 食物营养值|
|熱量||1540 kJ (370 kcal)|
|硫胺（維生素B1）||0.36 mg (28%)|
|核黄素（維生素B2）||0.32 mg (21%)|
|吡哆醇（維生素B6）||0.5 mg (38%)|
|叶酸（維生素B9）||184 μg (46%)|
|钙||36 mg (4%)|
|铁||4.6 mg (37%)|
|镁||197 mg (53%)|
|磷||457 mg (65%)|
|钾||563 mg (12%)|
|锌||3.1 mg (31%)|
Quinoa was important to the diet of pre-Columbian Andean civilizations. Today, people appreciate quinoa for its nutritional value. Quinoa has been called a superfood. Protein content is very high for a cereal/pseudo-cereal (14% by mass), yet not as high as most beans and legumes. Quinoa's protein content per 100 calories is higher than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet, but is less than wild rice and oats. Nutritional evaluations of quinoa indicate that it is a source of complete protein. Furthermore, it is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is also a source of calcium, and thus is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied spaceflights.
Quinoa may be germinated in its raw form to boost its nutritional value. Germination activates its natural enzymes and multiplies its vitamin content. In fact, quinoa has a notably short germination period: Only 2–4 hours resting in a glass of clean water is enough to make it sprout and release gases, as opposed to, e.g., 12 hours with wheat. This process, besides its nutritional enhancements, softens the seeds, making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.
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