Quinoa – an ancient grain that has seen recent exposure in the superfoods arena – has long been a staple grain of South America. Packed with protein and essential amino acids, this nutrient-rich grain has recently not only received international attention for its superior nutritional credentials, but for being a great wheat-free alternative to gluten-heavy grains.
Flourishing in dry, harsh conditions, originating from the Peruvian Andes, you will probably be surprised to hear that quinoa in recent years has made itself at home in the West Midlands.
In 2006 two farmers from Shropshire also had their own eyes opened to the nutritional benefits of quinoa and saw the potential for growing this super grain on British soil.
Father and son, Stephen and Edward Jones founded The British Quinoa Company in 2011, harvesting their first commercial crop in 2013, bringing a modest 20 tonnes of quinoa to a thriving health foods market.
Although initially having to trial several varieties of quinoa to arrive at the perfect yield, the family duo moved onto growing a special variety ideal for the European climate. This resulted in big, high-quality grains, perfect for the UK’s slightly wetter, temperate weather conditions, very different from its original growing environment.
Come the 2014 harvest, Stephen and Edward were cultivating even more hectares, with their yield increasing to 80 tonnes. With an exclusive UK licence, the brothers in Shropshire are the only farmers in the UK that are registered to grow British Quinoa.
With an ever-growing demand for healthy grains, and an increasing market for homegrown ingredients, The British Quinoa Company look to expand their product range and this year will be harvesting a substantial 350 hectares.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE BRITISH QUINOA COMPANY
Words by Helen Upshall
Photo: The British Quinoa Company