Amaranth is a kind of high-protein grain. It may easily be grown in many areas which are unable to support other crops. Agriculturalists think it is a promising crop which may help feed a hungry population in the future. It is not a new idea to grow amaranth as a foodstuff.
In Mexico during the sixteenth century, the Aztecs cultivated it. The plant was an important part of their diet. It has been shown that the Aztecs harvested close to 6,000 metric tons of the grain each year. However, when Cortes and his Spanish army invaded Mexico, they destroyed the crop completely. Today only a few wild and uncultivated kinds of amaranth exist, and it is rarely used as food in Mexico.
It has been discovered that amaranth is a highly nutritious food. The plant’s seed is high in protein, and it contains an important amino acid called lysine. Amino acids are organic compounds that are the building blocks of protein. Lysine is an essential amino acid that is missing in wheat, rice, and com. The leaves of some varieties compare in taste and nutritional value with spinach and other vegetable greens.
Amaranth can be ground into flour and made into baked foods. Bread made from amaranth flour is heavy and very compact when compared with the light and airy bread common in North America. The flour can also be used for cakes, cookies, and crackers, as well as high-protein breakfast cereals and snack foods. It is true that breeding a wild plant into a major food crop such as wheat requires much research time.
Agriculturalists know that it has taken hundreds of years of breeding different varieties of corn to get the better kinds we have today. They have to go through the same time-consuming stages to grow amaranth as a crop. Presently there are several problems. Because it is a wild plant, it is hard to predict the date when the crop will be ready to be harvested.
It is also impossible to know the expected height of the individual plants or how much a given amount of seed can produce. It is important, for economic reasons, to breed a plant of standard height and one that can be harvested at a specific time each year.