American in France goes with the grain

Quinoa grain is hearty,  healthy and growing in popularity. Jane Hanks meets a pioneer of its widespread production in Maine-et-Loire

The quinoa grain, originally from South America, is being grown in France, thanks to an American who lives in the Anjou region.

It is highly likely that if you have bought a packet from the supermarket, it will contain home grown grains as around 20% of quinoa bought in France comes from French fields, though this is rarely marked on the packaging.

It is grown by 300 farmers in the Anjou region in Maine-et-Loire and was introduced as a local crop by Jason Abbott who came to live in France in 2004. He had been working as an economist, specialising in seed markets for the USA Ministry of Agriculture and became fascinated by the idea of crop improvement by seed selection.

He came to France to work in a seed company and eventually set up his own business, Abbottagra, researching new crop varieties.

His daughter has celiac disease and so quinoa, which is gluten free, became one crop he was interested in: “We ...

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