Thursday, July 20, 2017

Data on government

Monday, July 10, 2017

Kate, in her own words

I at the swim meet and I got first place 🥇 ! I am so happy and I love going to swim meet and the hotdogs at do good I love saint Louis!🏳️‍🌈

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, July 03, 2017

The quinoa trend in google searches.

Google trends results

Quinoa has continued to grow in popularity.  The graph above shows search trends over time for quinoa, in blue, compared to kale, in red, and amaranth, in yellow. Quinoa has continued to increase, although it probably still is a fad food and not a true staple, because of the uptick in searches each January in the United states.  This is probably because it is a healthy grain with high and balanced protein content, and is easy to cook as a substitute for rice. 

From Wikipedia commons
By User:MarkusHagenlocher - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

But, the story of quinoa is not just that of a fad food.  It is native to the highlands of Bolivia and Peru, and a staple crop for indigenous populations.  When I was in Bolivia working on Bolivia it was not eaten even in Lima very often because it was seen as a poor person's food and an indigenous crop, but that had a negative connotation.  People described it as an "indio" food - which is a very negative thing.  Leila made a number of different quinoa recipes and we invited visitors to try them.

One of the almost mythic stories from when I worked in Bolivia was about the germplasm collection of quinoa varieties.  Alejandro Bonifacio was the breeder I worked with, and he had about 2-3000 quinoa varieties, previously owned by the Bolivian government. I need to interview him and Amalia about the period where the government decided to stop funding the collection and the experiment station and seeds were burned during a protest about government land redistribution.  Alejandro rescued the collection at great personal risk and danger.  It survived because of funding from private donors like PROINPA, the Benson Institute and the McKnight Foundation.

The other cautionary tale from the history of quinoa was a breeding effort from the USDA that used Bolivian germplasm and their development of an improved variety with male sterility.  The Bolivian government, popular press, and public erupted because this was "bio-piracy." Stories ranted that US researchers were stealing the inheritance of native Bolivians and were going to make them pay a royalty for growing their traditional crops.  US researchers, Sarah Ward and Duane Johnson, let the patent application go, but consequences of this for quinoa research still reverb. 

These skeptics often cite an incident at the Patacamaya research station, which local farmers sacked and burned in 1998 in the name of rural land redistribution. In the process, they destroyed seed canisters containing Bolivia’s largest gene bank for quinoa — 1,900 varieties, collected over decades. By a stroke of luck, Bonifacio was then running an experiment for which a duplicate of the collection had been parceled out to grow at two distant research stations.1 Otherwise, the gene bank would have been lost.


Turtles on the move

I found this turtle trying to cross the road by my work. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Book idea - The story of quinoa

I have been debating what I want to do with this blog.  I have not been very dedicated to posting, as the few of you that check have noticed.  I had an epiphany that I would update from my phone instead of logging in to the computer and writing, but blogger I do not think is Google's top priority. They cut the iphone app and even cut sharing links from youtube and google+.  I have thought about cutting over to a different provider or paying to get a dedicated website, but for now I will leave it as it is, because that is the lazy way?

Meanwhile, I have thought about what things I would be more dedicated about writing about and what people may be interested in reading.  I wondered this morning if it would be worth trying to get the framework of a book about quinoa written here.  I studied the genetics of quinoa for my masters degree in 2000-2002 at BYU.  Quinoa was not a superfood then.  You couldn't buy it at the supermarket or eat it on a salad at Panera.  It was an orphan crop of interest to the Benson Institute at BYU and to indigenous farmers in Bolivia, Peru and Chile.

But, the foundation was there for it to become a food fad.  Production was increasing thanks to the almost solitary efforts of  Alejandro Bonifacio and a few others in Bolivia that had rescued the germplasm collection from destruction and developed improved varieties with decreased saponins - bitter soapy chemicals on the outside of the seeds, and increased yields.  PROIMPA was starting to promote it and other "superfoods" were talked up on Oprah and other talk shows.