We continue to acquaint you with the peculiarity of cultivation and historical traditions of cultivation of amaranth in Mexico. The basis of this article are several publications on Mexican sites.
Today we will talk about the historical traditions of growing an ancient plant in a small settlement Uasulko.
Growing amaranth in Mexico: the main type of employment for the population of Uasulco
In the eastern regions of the Mexican state of Morelos, which borders the Puebla region, the ancient and small village of Uasulco is comfortably situated. In it, all residents specialize in the cultivation of amaranth – this is an ancient craft that is transmitted here from generation to generation. An amaranth in Mexico
The resulting amaranth is eaten, including for the preparation of various desserts. According to dry statistics, the cultivation of amaranth is the main source of income for more than 90% of the total population of Uasulko.
In addition, it is in this settlement that the best results are achieved in Mexico, if we talk about yield. Thus, 1,820 kilograms of amaranth grains are harvested per hectare of arable area. This figure is almost twice as high as the crops in the town of Tuleguchko, another center for the cultivation of amaranth. Although it is Tulegualco – the Mexican center for processing and production of amaranth products.
Today the organization of amaranth producers, called Tlanaguac, has undertaken the task of promoting amaranth and its products. The main goal:
- preserve the ancient traditions of cultivation;
- inform the public about the benefits of the plant;
- increase production volumes.
This is a very important mission, which will allow to increase the cultivation of amaranth – an ancient agricultural crop that has overcome the difficult time of prohibitions and extermination.
Note! There is an organization that promotes amaranth in Ukraine. In 2017, the Association of Producers of Amaranth and Amaranth Products of Ukraine was officially founded. The main tasks of the Association are to popularize the plant, control the quality standards of amaranth, cultivate the crop, help organize production and marketing of amaranth, etc.
What members of the Amaranth Tlanaguac manufacturers organization tell
According to members of the organization of producers of amaranth Tlanaguac, the ancient tradition of growing plants has been preserved in the Uasulko settlement. Here the seeds are sown immediately in open ground, in contrast to Tuleguchko, where seedlings are initially grown, and then transplanted into the field.
When sown in Uasulko, the seeds are simply scattered across the field. Peculiarities of the climate and the composition of the post in this region ensure the rapid maturation of amaranth – the whole cycle takes much less time than in other Mexican regions.
Seeds are sown at the end of May or at the beginning of June, depending on weather conditions — it is during this period that the first rains occur. A sufficient amount of moisture activates the growth of amaranth. Already at the end of July or at the beginning of August, the amaranth will grow quite high, field workers spend its hilling, and also bend the stems to the ground. This is due to the fact that during this period of the year strong winds blow, which can break the stalks or blow out seeds. Amaranth in Uasulco, Mexico
In late August or early September, the process of seed ripening begins – panicles acquire a special hue, but at the same time, the stems themselves continue to grow. Maximum height – from 170 to 230 centimeters.
Agricultural workers determine the level of seed ripening as follows – small panicles break down in different parts of the field and warm up between the palms. If the seeds fall out easily and get rid of the husk, then amaranth is fully ripe and you can start collecting it.
Features of amaranth harvest in Uasulko
Harvesting, threshing of panicles is carried out in late September or early October, depending on the time of ripening of the seeds. All collected panicles are dropped on a large clean piece of tarpaulin and tread on them barefoot. By the way, it is this method of threshing the crop that is applied in Tuleguico.
Note. In some cases, cattle (mules or donkeys) or machinery, tractors may be used for threshing, but the latter option is extremely rare.
After the threshing process is over, the tarpaulin is shaken vigorously to discard the husk and the remaining parts of the stems and leaves. Such seed cleaning is a rather complicated process, since the grain size is extremely small.
The next stage is sifting the grains, after which they are stored for three more days in the open air to get rid of excess moisture. Well dried seeds can be stored for up to 10 years, while maintaining their properties and value. Therefore, the technology of threshing and seed preparation pay special attention – in the town of Uasulko they adhere to the ancient traditions used by the Indians.
Why amaranth love in Mexico
The first reason is the ancient culture that the Indians cultivated here. They used amaranth not only in their religious rites (which is why the plant was forbidden by the colonialists, and the crops were burned), but also for everyday food consumption. Therefore, it is safe to say that amaranth is traditional for Mexicans. Although, of course, it is necessary to recognize that today amaranth is not too popular, and specialized organizations are engaged in its development and promotion. As mentioned above, the organization of manufacturers of amaranth, called Tlanaguac.
The second reason why Mexicans love amaranth is its high nutritional value. By the way, confirmed by numerous studies. It was found that amaranth in large quantities contains high-quality protein. In particular, there is twice as much protein in amaranth as in rice and corn. And there are two times more important amino acids like lysine than in wheat and three times more than in corn and as much as in cow’s milk.
In addition, amaranth grains are rich in various minerals and trace elements, among which are important substances for the human body, such as:
It should be noted, and a high content of vitamins – vitamin C, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and others.
And, of course, it deserves attention that the plant as a whole is 80% edible. In addition to the seeds in the food is the stems and leaves. Therefore, waste from amaranth is extremely small! Plants are used to make porridge, flour (for bread, pastries, etc.), leaves are used in salads, etc. That is why Mexicans seek to popularize amaranth in order to use it in food and significantly expand the diet.
The dietary properties of amaranth are also evaluated. In particular, the Mexicans evaluate the plant as an ideal product that will help to fight at once with two opposing in their essence, but highly relevant problems for the country – malnutrition and obesity. More and more research is being conducted in the country, specialized programs are being launched that allow the plant to be popularized, and the possibility of including amaranth in the diet of schoolchildren is being considered.