For a while, quinoa had grown in popularity amongst western countries. It’s known for being a good vegetarian protein source, having 8 grams of protein per cup.
However, for several reasons, quinoa is quite expensive. At the store, quinoa can be priced anywhere from $4 a bag to $10 a bag. In other years within the past decade, the prices of quinoa have been even higher, at least $14 a bag.
Why is Quinoa so Expensive?
As said before, there are several reasons for the price increase of quinoa. From popularity to import shipping costs, many factors come into play for the price.
One big reason for the high prices of quinoa is that it has gained in popularity over the years. With gaining popularity, there is an increase in demand. When it comes to crops, it can be hard to keep the supply up with the demand. With this, the high demand causes the prices to go up.
A Tough Growing Process
Quinoa crops are pretty tough to maintain. First, quinoa requires high elevations to grow. They originated in the Andes mountains and in the United States, it’s being grown in the Rocky Mountains.
With the elevation requirement, that means that there isn’t a lot of space to be able to grow this crop. Little available space means that not as many crops are able to grow which limits the supply that farmers can provide.
Quinoa also takes a long time to grow, around 2 or 3 months. There also isn’t a lot of automation of the growing or harvesting of this crop. Almost everything is done by hand. That requires a lot of extra time, energy, and resources. The more resources that go into growing a crop, the more expensive it will be.
Finally, a reason why quinoa is so expensive is that it takes money in order to import it into the United States. While the United States has been able to grow some quinoa in the country, the available land for growing is very small. This highly limits the United States grown quinoa and forces the United States to import it from other places.
Most of the quinoa crops in the world are grown in South America on the Alpes. It is also grown in places such as Peru and Bolivia. These places are all pretty far away, requiring a high import fee. The additional fees that occur in the import process make the overall price of quinoa so much higher.
Quinoa is almost double the price of rice, which is a lot more common to see in the United States. Many people wonder which is better, quinoa or rice? In terms of price, rice is a lot cheaper.
Why Has Quinoa Become so Popular?
Quinoa only started to gain popularity in the United States in the last decade. The reason for this is because quinoa is known as a superfood that people with allergies can enjoy. Quinoa has a lot of nutritional benefits that make it look super good.
The Nutritional Benefits of Quinoa:
- High source of protein (8 grams per cup)
- High source of fiber (around 5 grams per cup)
- Lots of amino acids
- Healthy source of carbs
- High source of various minerals (magnesium, potassium, phosphate, etc.)
- A high amount of antioxidants
- Good nutrition source for vegetarians and vegans
- Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar
- Aids with heart health
- High in iron
This collection of nutritional benefits makes it appealing to people no matter what their diet entails. Vegans and vegetarians use quinoa as a big protein source while those on gluten-free diets use it as a gluten replacement.
People who are very health conscious go-to quinoa to get many necessary minerals and other benefits. Those who are active like that quinoa has a lot of protein and healthy carbs.
Essentially, quinoa can be beneficial to so many people that when those people found out the benefits, they latched on to the “new” healthy product. Though, quinoa is not new by any means.
What Does Quinoa Taste Like?
Quinoa is like a mix of rice and grains. Its texture is closer to that of rice while its taste is more grainy.
Some describe quinoa as having an earthy and nutty taste. It can be similar in taste to oats or other kinds of grains. Sometimes quinoa can taste like brown kinds of rice.
However, some insist that quinoa is bitter. There is a good reason for that. When unwashed, quinoa contains saponin which is the plant’s natural pest control. To make sure that your quinoa won’t taste bitter, remember to soak and rinse your quinoa before cooking.
The best way to do this is to give the quinoa a good rinse and allow it to soak in a bowl/cup/container of water overnight. This makes the texture better and softer too. Without the use of water, you can end up with really firm quinoa that doesn’t pop open as well.
When cooked, your quinoa will still have its earthy taste, but also the taste of the other ingredients added to your dish. Quinoa is super adaptable and will pair well with anything from a spicy quinoa bowl to a chocolate breakfast bowl.
How to Store Quinoa
In stores, it is common to find quinoa being sold in bags. Many times, these bags will have a way to reseal them after being opened. Storing your quinoa in an air-tight container is extremely important.
It is suggested that if you buy quinoa in a bag, put the sealed bag in another air-tight container for extra protection. This can be as simple as putting the sealed bag in a larger Tupperware container.
Also, you should store your quinoa at room temperature and out of the sun. The sun will make the quinoa go bad faster.
Uncooked quinoa will keep for about a year while cooked quinoa will be good in the fridge for about 5 days.
Quinoa VS Rice
What’s the difference between rice and quinoa? Is quinoa a good substitute for rice?
For the second question, yes. Quinoa and rice are nutritionally similar, though quinoa has more overall nutrients. This makes quinoa a good substitute for rice that is healthier.
Even though quinoa has a more grainy taste, they both can have a similar texture. It’s not the same, but you can easily put quinoa where rice would be in recipes for a similar feel. With the right spices, they can taste similar.
Quinoa is a good rice substitute if you can’t have rice due to gluten or other allergy reasons.
The only downside to this substitution is that quinoa is a lot more expensive than rice, being at least double the normal price of rice.
The closest kind of rice to quinoa is basmati rice. If you are looking for a taste like quinoa that is slightly cheaper, basmati rice is for you. Though they don’t have the same nutritional values.
Let’s face it, even though quinoa has amazing nutritional properties and is great for those with a gluten allergy, it is still very expensive. Not everyone will be able to implement this crop into their diet.
If you are price conscious, then you can stick with rice. Quinoa and rice may not have equal nutritional benefits, but they still taste quite similar. Quinoa is a good substitute for rice in many dishes.
If you like quinoa and enjoy it frequently, then you are getting plenty of nutritional benefits in your dishes. From high protein and fiber to having a balanced amount of minerals, quinoa helps make a more balanced diet.