Quinoa, a grain crop which is cultivated for its edible seeds, has been domesticated in South America for thousands of years. Pronounced as "keen-wa", this crop is considered to be a healthier alternative to starchy grains and comes in three different varieties: whole grain white, red and black. The United Nations declared 2013 as the "International Year of Quinoa" in recognition of the indigenous peoples of the Andes, who have preserved quinoa as a staple for present and future generations.
According to scientific studies, Quinoa is high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which have possible benefits in the prevention and treatment of disease. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and has a higher content of monounsaturated fat, in contrast to other cereal grasses. Furthermore, this crop is a good source vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and magnesium.
Over the years, the global production of quinoa had been increasing significantly, exceeding 228 thousand metric tons in 2015. During this period, Peru and Bolivia were the leading quinoa producing countries, each accounting for more than ninety thousand metric tons in 2015. In 2014, the United States imported approximately 68.9 million pounds of quinoa, predominantly from the Andean region.