This year has seen tanking approval ratings for just about everybody in Washington, thanks to bungled policy initiatives, stalled legislation, and a government shutdown. But one player did have a good year.
In February, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization declared 2013 the international year of quinoa, not for the grain’s place in Western society as a healthy, even upscale ingredient that’s tough to pronounce, but for its impact on food security around the world.
Quinoa contains many essential amino acids and vitamins, and can grow in a variety of climates. Planting and cultivating quinoa in areas of extreme poverty eases hunger and malnutrition, the U.N. group explains, and could eventually give rise to a new crop industry.
The price of quinoa, often called “the miracle grain of the Andes” for its origins, has tripled since 2006, The Guardian reported early this year. Its popularity in nations where the crop is not indigenous, like the United States, has pushed costs up enough so that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia can no longer afford it. Still, Peru and Bolivia are among the list of South American nations funding this year’s promotional campaign of quinoa.
In the U.S., the concept of quinoa as a “super food” is at least a few years old. The grain’s versatility, as well as its recent recognition as a food craze, will keep it on the world stage for years to come.
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The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House this morning by a 375-34 vote. The bill, which heads to the Senate next week for final consideration, would fund the military to the tune of $618.7 billion, "about $3.2 billion more than the president requested for fiscal 2017. ... The White House has issued a veto threat on both the House and Senate-passed versions of the bill, but has not yet said if it will sign the compromise bill released by the conference committee this week."
"Republicans have elected Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) the next chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden defeated Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Joe Barton (R-TX), the former committee chairman, in the race for the gavel" to succeed Michgan's Fred Upton.
"Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working on legislation that would limit deportations" under President-elect Donald Trump. Leading the effort are Judiciary Committee members Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is also expected to sign on.
Donald Trump has selected retired Marine Gen. James 'Mad Dog' Mattis as his secretary of defense, according to The Washington Post. Mattis retired from active duty just four years ago, so Congress will have "to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law that states secretaries of defense must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years." The official announcement is likely to come next week.