Sunday, June 1, 2014

Qunioa Isn't a Grain?

I am currently working on a dog food project to help narrow down possible foods for dogs with allergies. I only feed my dogs grain-free foods, and so I was surprised to find quinoa on the ingredients list for Solid Gold's Sun Dancer food. I've eaten quinoa, I've even cooked it myself, and I was pretty sure it was in the grain family. Can Solid Gold really claim that this food is grain-free?

My approach to pretty much any question in life is to look it up on the internet and find an answer. According to Wikipedia, quinoa is a pseudocereal crop. True cereals come from plants in the true grass family, and quinoa is actually a chenopod. It is more closely related to beets and tumbleweeds than to wheat. Who knew?

The name "quinoa" is derived from Quechuan, a native South American language. The Quechuan word for it is "kinwa", and I think we should all start using that spelling instead because it would be a lot easier to pronounce. I spent well over a year pronouncing it "kwi-no-ah" before learning the error of my ways.

So is Sun Dancer really grain-free if it contains quinoa, or is Solid Gold cheating? Technically it's a pseudocereal, along with amaranth and buckwheat. It also falls into the "grain crop" category, but so do legumes like beans and peas. Quinoa is actually a seed, but it has a high glycemic value like a lot of real cereal grains. It's also high in protein. Technically Sun Dancer is a grain-free food, but it's a lot closer to having grain than foods that use peas and potatoes.

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