25 February 2013 Society Mind your body

Munching On El Dorado

Take time off that French manicure and pay attention to local produce and eat what is in season.
Illustration by Sorit

Quinoa, the humble grain from South America, was touted as the “wonder grain”, the “complete protein”, the “blessing of the Andes” and God-knows-what-else. This in turn spelled doom for its growers and traditional eaters. The grain became the “miraculous” food that the waist-watching and weight obsessed rich were looking for, creating a quinoa mafia and, naturally, a deprived local population in its wake.

So is it protein rich? That depends on what you are comparing it with. If you  are comparing it to a biscuit, then yes. If you are comparing it to rice, no. It’s one thing for some grain to contain protein and it’s quite another for your body to assimilate amino acids from it. And nothing lets you assimilate amino acids better than the humble dal-chawal or some khichdi with ghee.

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Now for some dietician bashing. The West goes gaga over quinoa, but why are dieticians in India promoting it? And why are their clients eating it? Kuttu (eaten during festivals in North India) and rajgeera (permitted during votive ‘fasts’ in the South) are pseudo cereals like quinoa. But that’s not the issue; the point is that kuttu ka poori and rajgeera chikki is “not allowed”, but quinoa is shoved down your throat.

There’s a reason why your region grows rice, bajra, nachni, jowar, etc. You live in a tropical region of the earth and the nutrients you need to lose weight, look good, have a sharp face-cut and even sharper memory are available in the soil and ingested through foods grown in this soil and climate. So take time off that French manicure and pay attention to local produce and eat what is in season.

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