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Quinoa, a protein-packed grain that contains every amino acid, is a nutritional standout that can be successfully grown in dry conditions. As a result of these attributes, the United Nations named 2013 the “International Year of Quinoa,” celebrating the role that this supergrain’s biodiversity and nutritional value plays in providing food security, nutrition, and the eradication of poverty.
Alter Eco invites consumers in the United States to celebrate the International Year of Quinoa and discover how eating Alter Eco quinoa will give a substantial nutritional boost to their diet, while directly benefitting the small-scale farmers who produce it. By purchasing Alter Eco quinoa, consumers are supporting the efforts of the brand and the United Nations alike to ensure food security, economic justice, and biodiversity in some of the poorest parts of the world.
Among the 1,500 varieties of quinoa currently grown, royal quinoa (or “quinoa real”) is grown only in the Bolivian Altiplano salt flats, 13,000 feet above sea level. Like with Champagne, Royal Quinoa can only come from this part of the world. Because of Alter Eco’s exclusive relationship with the cooperative in this special part of Bolivia, Alter Eco is the only provider of Royal Quinoa in the United States.
The arid and harsh conditions at this extreme altitude result in difficult growing conditions in which only the strongest quinoa can survive, and thrive. The combination of these Darwinian circumstances and rich mineral soil in the area, produce seeds nearly a third larger than anywhere else in the world, and is believed to be fluffier, nuttier and more nutritious. Quinoa from this region has been prized for centuries; in Incan times, this supersized quinoa was reserved for royalty, hence the name “quinoa real.” Royal Quinoa is also of such high quality because of the expertise and skill of the local farmers, who carry on the tradition of growing quinoa with exceptional know how from generations of experience.
The Alter Eco Royal Quinoa portfolio includes the following:
• Royal Pearl Quinoa: Closer to couscous, with an ever-so-slight crunch
• Royal Red Quinoa: A complex, protein-packed substitute for brown rice
• Royal Black Quinoa: The crunchiest of the quinoas
• Royal Rainbow Quinoa: A colorful blend of the pearl, red and black quinoa
These offerings are unique not only in that they are Royal Quinoa, but also in the variety of colors offered. Colored quinoa is extremely rare and Alter Eco is the only U.S. provider of black quinoa. Continuing to offer quinoa in different colors preserves the biodiversity of these strains and in addition to their appearance, the colored quinoas vary slightly in taste and texture.
Alter Eco quinoa products, like all Alter Eco offerings, are 100% fair trade, organic and non-GMO. The products are also Carbon Neutral certified, which means they have measured and compensated for the carbon emissions of every step in the supply chain.
In addition to their unwavering commitment to the environment, Alter Eco is dedicated to the small farmers and their families who grow their products, and as such, have developed an extensive auditing process for all of their growers to ensure fair wages, good working conditions and hours, and opportunities for economic growth and development. Since 2002, Alter Eco has been working with and for indigenous quinoa growers from the southern Bolivian Altiplano. Their biannual visits to these communities are multi-faceted, from measuring impact and triple bottom line performances of the co-op, to farming and processing cost analysis, to computer donations to schools. Alter Eco is the exclusive partner of ANAPQUI (the largest and oldest quinoa cooperative of small-scale farmers in Bolivia) in the US market.
Between 2002 and the present day, the lives of Alter Eco’s quinoa partners have changed in some very perceptible ways: household income and diversification of revenue sources have significantly increased. Better economic resources have allowed families to settle seasonally in more populated areas, improving their housing and living conditions, placing the farmers and their families in proximity of better school systems and higher education. Additional revenue from quinoa has allowed farmers to add fresh vegetables, fruit and meat to diversify and improve their daily diet.
“It is clear that, without quinoa transnational trade, these positive achievements would not exist and Southern Altiplano inhabitants would be forced to continue to migrating season to season and selling their labor at cheap rates,” says Edouard Rollet, Co-Founder and President of Alter Eco. “There is a promising opportunity where this exponential market growth could be the solution to eradicate poverty in one of the poorest locations on the globe, but only if this demand is met with a sustainably provided supply.”
Quinoa is renowned as an excellent source of protein, iron, calcium, magnesium, and fiber. “Quinoa is becoming an increasingly popular food choice for those looking to incorporate "superfoods" into their everyday diets,” says “Diet Doctor” Melina Jampolis, MD, board-certified physician nutrition specialist and author of The Calendar Diet: A Month-by-Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life. “As a whole grain with an exceptional anti-oxidant-rich profile, quinoa can help boost cardiovascular and gastro-intestinal health and may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.”
Wheat-free and gluten-free, it can be used instead of pasta or other starches in dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Preparing quinoa is quick and easy; simply rinse in cold water, place in water or stock, bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Alter Eco Royal Quinoa products are available at Whole Foods Markets and select natural food stores across the country, as well as online at http://shop.alterecofoods.com/.
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