Despite the presence of a multitude of evidence and research data, many in our country still do not believe in the power of amaranth and its edibility. However, in some countries of the world it is on this plant that they plan to focus, developing it almost as a main agricultural crop. Among those states – Mexico. Today we will talk about how the cultivation of amaranth here is planning to make a strategic direction. This was written by one of the reputable news portals.
Amaranth in southern Mexico
Amaranth seedlings are grown in the Tehuacán Valley (the municipality of the same name in the state of Puebla), which is located in southern Mexico.
Mexicans note that the seeds of the plant are characterized by a high content of protein, and its leaves are high in iron, vitamin C and calcium.
Once amaranth was just as important to the diet of the population of Central and South America as corn and beans. However, this plant almost disappeared after the Spaniards who colonized the region, banned it because of its use in the rituals of Aztec sacrifice.
Now more and more actively amaranth is trying to return as the main product in Mexico, because it has both excellent nutritional properties and the ability to be resistant to the unstable Mexican climate.
In some ways, this is a story about two plants – corn and amaranth. The article provides a peculiar comparison and opposition of cultures. Such a presentation of the material will allow you to fully appreciate all the benefits of amaranth, as well as understand why the plant will become popular.
Both plants have long been cultivated in the Tehuacan Valley in southern Mexico. Corn and amaranth produce flour to cook tamales and flatbread.
Note! Tamales – one of the most popular Mexican dishes, which is a roll with a filling. It has 500 varieties prepared for a variety of recipes. The flatbread is steamed from corn or amaranth flour wrapped in corn leaves. Before use, corn leaves are removed. Tamales may contain a stuffing of minced meat, cheese, fruit, vegetables, etc.
Along with beans, corn and amaranth were the main products that allowed the Aztec empire to flourish. The difference lies in the fact that corn has become the cornerstone of the world food system, while amaranth basically remained only in history books.
Mexico – Amaranth Land
The destruction of amaranth began almost five centuries ago with the arrival of the Spanish colonialists and the Catholic Church in Central and South America. Until then, the Aztecs considered this a sacred grain.
“So sacred,” says biochemist Mary Delano, “that the seeds mixed with human blood in sacrifices to the Aztec gods. After this mixture the Aztecs ate. ”
Delano says that the Spaniards banned both the religious ritual itself and the cultivation of amaranth. “Even Hernan Cortes said that he would kill those who planted amaranth. That is why amaranth was lost to humans. ”
This created the prerequisites for Mexico and most of the world to become the land of corn. Delano hopes to change that.
“Amaranth must return to Mexico,” she says. “This is Mexico, del del amaranto grass,” says biocomics. That is, Mexico – the land of Amaranth.
“Mexico, Land of Amaranth,” is the name Delano chose for a non-profit organization founded to help impoverished women grow amaranth in small gardens.
Ironically, efforts are supported by the same church that suppressed the pagan seed centuries ago. During a tour in Queretaro, north of Mexico City, a Catholic priest was one of those who promoted the plant, blessing new sites that allow amaranth to grow all year round. Mexican research on amaranth
According to Delano, this is very important. Because, according to the UN, amaranth contains more protein than any other plant on earth. The biochemist says there is a reason NASA chose amaranth as part of the astronaut diet.
“It’s even better than milk,” says Delano. “Amaranth can also replace meat and eggs.”
Amaranth leaves are also edible, with iron, vitamin C and calcium in them, more than in spinach. And here in Mexico, Delano’s efforts to revive amaranth “receive” climate support.
Peculiarities of growing amaranth in Mexico – the culture is opposed to the vagaries of the weather
In the arid Tehuacan Valley, where farmers first cultivated amaranth and corn, the weather ceased to be stable. “Every day is a risk,” says 51-year-old Juan Núñez. He says that people are leaving their lands, throwing fields, because they simply do not bring profit.
But this applies to those who cultivate corn. Núñez himself has been growing amaranth with corn for the past 30 years, and this helps him maintain his farm. He says that during a severe drought that hit the region a few years ago, corn farmers were left without a crop. But, as Núñez says, amaranth gave an excellent harvest even under adverse weather conditions.
Núñez sells part of her crop through a cooperative, in the shops of which organic amaranth is processed – from it they get flour, various snacks, etc. Today, small farmers are increasingly engaged in the cultivation and sale of amaranth.
Corn remains agricultural queen of Mexico, but amaranth is breathing hard in the back
Of course, corn is still the queen in Mexico. Under her crops occupied 3000 times more land than under amaranth. But many amaranth manufacturers, scientists, and public health officials are hoping to narrow the gap in the coming years, promoting amaranth as a new product in the global food chain.02. Amaranth crops in Mexico
Eduardo Espicia, a specialist at the National Institute of Forestry, Agriculture and Livestock of Mexico, says that promoting amaranth requires some effort, because the plant is still relatively unknown.
“He still has the characteristics of wild plants,” says Espitia. “The seeds are very small, so it is difficult to sow them. Therefore, there is still a lot of work in this direction. ”
But Espicia says that if amaranth researchers had at least some data, like corn, they could develop more commercial varieties.
Espicia just says, this is especially important given the increase in average temperatures. After all, amaranth feels great at high temperatures and relative aridity. Therefore, the plant offers excellent prospects for the agricultural industry.
Nutritionists, in turn, argue that it will be a blessing to the health of the nation, because along with climate change, Mexico is struggling with both malnutrition and obesity of its population.
“This is partly because people have abandoned their traditional products,” says Josephine Morales of the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition. Dual health problems have become a priority for the government of Mexico, and as part of strengthening their fight against them, the government recently included amaranth as a strategic resource in its National Crusade against Hunger.
As planned to develop and promote amaranth
Biochemist Mary Delano says that amaranth can be made truly accessible to the public. But this is still half the battle. Amaranth in Mexico
According to Mary Delano, a village festival dedicated to products from amaranth is regularly held in Queretaro. “The beans are great, and the corn is beautiful,” says Delano, “but the tortilla with corn and amaranth is completely different.”
Amaranth itself is not only tasty by itself. But adding it to the corn does not change the flavor of the scones. And the combination of these products is saturated with protein, which is similar in its qualities to meat or even surpasses meat products.
Delano says that sometimes she feels that her efforts are like trying to build a house on the ocean. But nevertheless with each new crop, with each new meeting with farmers, she sees that there is, in fact, a movement that is quite noticeable.
According to a recent study, Mexico will lose up to one-third of its corn-oriented agricultural products by 2080 due to climate change. This means that with or without government support, but amaranth may well again become a grain of strategic importance to people. Or maybe he will return his sacredness again.