Amaranth: An answer to climate change in Mexico

Strange but true: the grain that supported the Aztec empire, amaranth, also turns out to be a grain far better suited than corn for the heat waves of climate change in Mexico.

As we've seen in recent years with heat waves in the Midwest, during pollination corn can be set back badly by heat waves. Amaranth can handle it, as Sam Eaton explained for PRI last year:

…according the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, amaranth packs more protein than any other plant on earth. [Biochemist Mary Delano] says there's a reason NASA selected it as part of its astronauts' diets.

"It's even better than milk," Delano says. "It's also a substitute of meat and a substitute of eggs".

Amaranth leaves are also edible, packing more iron, vitamin C and calcium than spinach. And here in Mexico, Delano's effort to revive amaranth is getting some help from the climate.

Strange that Cortez wouldn't allow the traditional grain — part of the logic of conquest perhaps? To take strength from the native peoples? 

It's also strange that Eaton, who deservedly won an award for his radio work tonight at the Society of Environmental Journalists, has only 250 or so followers on Twitter. Not only has he been great on various radio shows for several years now, and mentions his feed, but he's moved on to PBS and television. 

And he's smart, good-humored, reasonable — what's not to like?

Perhaps seriousness must be its own reward.

Regardless, here's an enticing recipe for an amaranth risotto, which I hear from reliable sources can be wonderful. And here's the star of the post, the grain itself. 


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: