We’d like to introduce you to The British Quinoa Company, yep that’s right, quinoa growing right here in the UK!
We chat with Stephen Jones from ‘The British Quinoa Company’ to talk about the rise in popularity of quinoa and the great British weather!
1. Tell us more about The British Quinoa Co and how it all started for you?
The British Quinoa Co is owned by myself and my father Edward, and it is based on our family farm in Shropshire. It all started back in 2005 when I first read about quinoa and I managed to give it a try. Fortunately I loved it and started experimenting with various different varieties on my farm to see if we could grow a British version of the product.
2. We know that quinoa is a power packed food but clear up the frequently asked question is quinoa a grain?
Quinoa is actually a seed. It is classed as a pseudo-cereal, because although it is used in a very similar manner to cereals such as wheat or oats, it is not related to them at all.
3. Where does quinoa originate and why do you think it’s getting it’s recognition as a healthy food source right now?
Quinoa originates from South America and it is gaining recognition as a healthy food source due to its great combination of protein, fiber and mineral content. Not only this, but it is also gluten free which appeals to the rapidly growing gluten free market.
4. It’s superb to see quinoa being grown on British soil, but what kind challenges do you have with growing quinoa in the UK?
Our biggest challenge was finding the right varieties that grow in this country. We had to go to The Netherlands to find varieties that would work for us. After this, our biggest challenge is the lack of weed control, which means that the crop needs to be managed so that we control weeds in a cultural manner, essentially this means without herbicides. This can make it quite tricky to harvest when there is weed within the crop, although our customers love the fact that we are pesticide free.
5. What are the nutritional qualities of quinoa?
Quinoa is high in protein, fiber and minerals. It also is low GI, meaning that it will not raise your blood sugar levels anything like what occurs with white rice.
6. We know that you studied agriculture, but what made you look to grow quinoa? And how does it differ from other forms of crop farming?
I looked into growing quinoa as I loved the product, but wished to be able to produce a Britsh grown version of it. Also, it allowed me to expand the range of crops we could grow on the farm which is great for the environment. It differs from other forms of crop farming because we cannot spray it for weeds, pests or diseases like with other crops, and although this makes production much harder, our customers love the fact that we grow it so naturally.
7. How many different varieties of quinoa are available and how many can be grown on British soil?
There are hundreds of varieties of quinoa out there, but probably only two or three will grow in the UK as most varieties are bred for production in South America, where the crop is native.
8. Where can people find and buy your quinoa?
It is available from my website, and also is gradually starting to appear in health food shops.
9. What’s next for you and for The British Quinoa Co.
I think my next plan is to develop a wider range of quinoa products, but also to keep developing new crops in the UK that can make a tangible improvement to our diet.
Find out more and try the quinoa, avocado and pomegranate salad from the website www.britishquinoa.co.uk