November 11, 2014 by Tess Riley
“There was nothing remarkable about the cold, grey, winter’s day back in 2005 when Steve Jones first read about quinoa. As a local magazine extolled the health benefits of the hard-to-pronounce crop, the British student mentally added some to his next food shop and thought nothing more of it that day. Little did he realise that he had just taken his first step to becoming one of a handful of pioneering farmers bringing the South American super food to farms across western Europe.”
This week, I’ve written about a farmer called Steve Jones for the Guardian. It’s a story of innovation and exploration, of family support and self-belief, and of one man’s determination to carry on despite the set-backs.
Quinoa has had its fair share of good and bad press. Lauded for its high protein and impressive amino acid content, the grain-like seed has wowed meat and non-meat eaters alike. The sharp rise in demand for the crop in the West, however, has led to a tripling of world quinoa prices, in turn triggering significant problems in the traditional producing regions of Peru and Bolivia, including malnutrition and land disputes.
Can British-grown quinoa address some of those problems? Steve Jones certainly hopes so, and to cut food miles and support local, small-scale UK farms while he’s at it.