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a Health Trend 8,000 Years Old that ‘Could Feed the World’


“Nutritious ancestral plant of the Mayans, its flowers a treasure, a small but
powerful grain; eat the leaf and grain, which is great for roasting and making
Popcorn.”

Amaranthus tricolor – Family Amaranthaceae, by Kurt Stüber, CC license

This short description, on a website translated from Spanish, downplays the great potential and great story of a humble but potential superfood that could replace nutrient-deficient grains throughout the developing world.

The first growers of the grain called amaranth were the ever-ahead of their time Mayan peoples of Central and South America. It was also cultivated by the Aztecs.

When Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 17th century, they threatened anyone who saw amaranth growing, because the spiritual connection they had with the plant was thought to undermine Christianity, according to a recent article in The Guardian. Now free from such persecution, the ancestors of the Mesoamerican peoples in Latin America are bringing this once common crop to the attention of world markets.

A source of all nine essential amino acids, as well as several key minerals like iron and magnesium, amaranth is a pseudocereal that sits somewhere between a seed and a grain, like buckwheat or quinoa, and does not contain gluten.

In addition, it is now being cultivated and marketed in high-end products for the beauty industry, in essential oilsand health food stores, in remote locations such as South Asia, China, India, West Africa and the Caribbean.

With nearly 75 species in the Amaranthus genus, some amaranth species are grown as leafy vegetables, some for cereals, and some for ornamental plants that you may have planted in your garden.

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The densely packed flower clusters and stems grow in a range of striking pigments, from maroon and crimson to ocher and lime, and can grow 3 to 8 feet tall. Some of them are annual summer weeds, commonly known as pigweeds.

Amaranth blast

The total value, since the 1970s, when amaranth began to appear on store shelves, has skyrocketed to become a global trade that is now valued at $ 5.8 billion.

And a Pueblo woman from New Mexico believes she has the potential to feed the entire world.

Much of the resurgence of traditional amaranth growing methods, which involve saving the seeds of the best plants, similar to growing corn in Mexico. farmers, they have created a very resistant crop. TO 2010 article from the New York Times detailing the increase in weeds resistant to Monsanto’s herbicide “Roundup”, he explained that amaranth, considered a weed by some, showed such resistance.

Amaranthus caudatus, by CT Johansson, CC license

Organizations like Qachoo Aluum in Guatemala, a Mayan word for Mother Earth, sell these ancient grains / seeds on your websiteand organize workshops to help indigenous communities regain food security through ancestral farming methods.

Recover is a keyword here because, like The Guardian In the details of the article, government forces had been persecuting the Mayan population and burning their fields. Farmers kept amaranth seeds in secret jars buried underground, and when the two-decade war ended, the remaining farmers began to spread the seed and growing methods across the field.

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Qachoo Aluum was resurrected from the ashes of this conflict, thanks to more than 400 families from 24 Guatemalan villages, who have been traveling each year to the United States to share their ancestral knowledge about cultivation to predominantly indigenous and Latin-language garden centers.

“Amaranth has completely changed the lives of families in our communities, not only economically, but also spiritually,” said Maria Aurelia Xitumul, of Mayan descent and member of the Qachoo Aluum community since 2006.

Seed sharing, a vital part of healthy farming systems, has revived the friendly connections between the Guatemalan Qachoo Aluum and their Pueblo relatives of New Mexico.

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“We have always seen our seed relatives as family members and relatives, ”said Tsosie-Peña, who believes the hardy and nutritious plant can feed the world.

A perfect plant for drought-prone regions, amaranth has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, encourage rural development, and support sustainable land care.

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