The Other Andean Superfood

Potato consumption in the U.S. has been down quite a bit since the dawn of the Atkins and other low-carb diets.  Meanwhile, consumption of quinoa has skyrocketed.  I find this slightly amusing since together, they are two of the three were dietary staples of the Inca people, originating in the highlands of Peru and Bolivia.  (The other is corn).

Quinoa is now considered a superfood, hailed for being high protein and gluten free.  Potatoes are also relatively high in protein.  They, too, are gluten-free.  In Incan cuisine, quinoa and potatoes are very commonly eaten together.  And yet many health conscious Americans still consider potatoes a food to avoid, shunned potatoes as if they were the vegetable equivalent of Wonder Bread ™.  Not true!

Disclaimer:  Terra Firma grows potatoes.  We don’t grow quinoa.  So I might be considered slightly biased here.  That said, I do eat and enjoy quinoa regularly.

Yes, I know potatoes contain carbohydrates.  But they don’t deserve to be lumped in with white bread, white rice, sugar, soda and all the other nutrient-empty foods that do little more than inject sugar into your blood through your mouth.  They are a vegetable, a whole food with natural vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein.

Eaten in moderation, healthfully prepared potatoes are a beneficial addition to almost anyone’s diet: boiled, baked, roasted, sauteed.  Unfortunately, the majority of potatoes consumed in the U.S. are deep fried and eaten as fries or chips.  And even if they are not, they are often smothered with unhealthy amounts of cheese, butter, or sour cream.

I say, stop blaming “the Other Andean Superfood” for the unhealthy ways in which many Americans choose to eat them.

There is one important difference between the two staple Andean foods:  Quinoa is difficult to grow in the U.S., so most of it is imported.  Many of the Peruvian and Bolivian small farmers who grow it can no longer afford to eat it due to the high price caused by demand from global health gourmands.   But potatoes, grown in most states of our country, are readily available almost year-round from local farmers and relatively affordable in comparison.

Potatoes deserve to be part of a healthy plant-centered diet, and they are an important part of our CSA boxes year round at Terra Firma.




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