Amaranth: Food or Fiend?

As usual, I spent a portion of my day grocery shopping. I have become more intrigued by different products being marketed that people are eating, so I now will walk more isles to see what options are out there. Today, I had to stop dead in my tracks while in the organic section. I don’t usually buy organic because

1) I know how it is produced and don’t typically care about the difference
2) Am not into the whole “surplus marketing” thing 
3) What I eat is just as healthy anyways.

But, nonetheless, I wanted to see what was on the shelves. One product I found today gave me a little surprise. Within the grain and cereals section, there sat some bags of Amaranth.
Amaranth: Food or Fiend

When I saw the word, this is what I immediately thought of.
Palmer Amaranth
Young Palmer amaranth plants. Photo courtesy of Syngenta
Palmer Amaranth
Mature Palmer amaranth (tall, finger-like plants) in cotton.
Photo via

This amaranth, is a nuisance weed. Within crop production today, Palmer amaranth and pigweed species, which are in the amaranth family, are some of the most difficult to control weeds for many major crops including corn, soybeans and cotton. The Midwest has had much experience with the weeds and Purdue published this helpful document about the species and controlling them.

But, as I discovered on Wikipedia, this family of weeds all derived from Mexico and are essentially eaten in that country as a protein source. 
Bob’s Red Mill Amaranth
Step back a moment. 
I just told you it is one of, if not the most, difficult to control weeds in agriculture right now. And people are eating seeds from a different amaranth plant because of health benefits. 
This article from the Huffington Post shared 14 reasons it is good to eat Amaranth seed. I don’t know about you, but if that doesn’t get your mind turning to figure out a way to sow the seeds from these weeds in the U.S. and keep them out of farmers fields, I don’t know what will. My grocery experience today reminded me that we still have a long road ahead before all of our challenges can be overcome and ag literacy can be improved.
In the meantime, I plan to stay away from buying Amaranth seed when I know plenty of farmers would happily give it away to me if I asked. 

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