According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), this Andean plant originated around Lake Titicaca, which straddles the Peru-Bolivia border, and is where the greatest diversity and genetic variation is found. Its domestication may have occurred between 3000 and 5000 B.C.
The organization also states that quinoa grows naturally in the Andes, from Colombia (Pasto) to northern Argentina (Jujuy and Salta) and southern Chile. The largest producers are from Bolivia and Peru. However, its cultivation has spread all over the globe. The United States is also a major producer of this esteemed grain, and it is grown in France, England, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Italy, as well as in Canada, Kenya and northern India.
As for its nutritional value, is known to be a good food for children and athletes (it is high in protein), diabetics (it contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which lower cholesterol in the blood), people with gluten allergies (because it contains very little gluten) and people who are lactose intolerant. It has more minerals than most grains (its vitamin B and C content is higher than that of wheat) and is rich in fibre. It also acts as an antioxidant.
For these reasons, Peruvian cuisine has never lost sight of quinoa, but its use was associated with lowly soups, prepared in the most humble way. The Novo Andean cuisine movement restored its value. The famous quinoto (quinoa risotto), created three decades ago, attests to its worth and could be considered the springboard for the creativity that has gradually moved this food to the forefront of gourmet cuisine.
Today Peru celebrates not only its taste and texture, but also the many organic varieties which our Andean farmers safeguard and protect.