Jacqui Cottrell admits the crop she and husband Dan grow can be a bit of a head-scratcher for some people. Quinoa, often described as a super food, is open to a few different pronunciations.
"We're pretty relaxed about how people say it," she laughs.
The Cottrells' Kiwi Quinoa brand gives consumers a clue right there in its name as to the traditional pronunciation – 'keen-wah'.
There are just a handful of farmers growing quinoa in New Zealand. It was while they were travelling through South America that the Cottrells were inspired to grow this ancient grain, one of the few plant foods that contain all the essential amino acids.
The couple realised that the landscape of Peru was similar to the topography back home on the Central Plateau.
"We're quite high altitude, 700 to 800 metres above sea level, which is certainly what quinoa seems to enjoy," says Cottrell. "There's over 3000 varieties of quinoa, so it was a matter of choosing one that was suitable to our climate."
Their quinoa is free of saponin, the bitter substance that protects plants from birds/pests but must be removed before people eat it.
"Because it is saponin-free and doesn't require that commercial washing or polishing it's got a lovely integrity when you cook with it."
For the Cottrells, it was also important to grow their quinoa in the most environmentally friendly way possible, without herbicides or pesticides. Fortunately, quinoa is a crop that is gentle on the ecosystem by its very nature.
"It's an incredibly nutrient-dense crop that takes only half the time of cereal crops to grow and it requires no irrigation and no huge input in terms of fertiliser."
"It just packs such a nutritional punch for the inputs that are going in to grow it."
While it's often seen as an option just for vegetarians, the Cottrells, who also farm beef and sheep, believe it can be enjoyed by everyone and can also be easily incorporated into meat dishes.
"There's just so many health benefits, it's worth adding in to your weekly repertoire of recipes," says Cottrell. "You could have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner and it would work beautifully."
Country Calendar, TVNZ 1, Sunday, April 14
Author: MELENIE PARKES