There are different uses of plant that are familiar and unfamiliar to people. The usage may be known to one depending on whether one subscribe to the traditional origin of the plant in question. This paper examines Amaranth. In the research about this plant there are several discoveries that were made. Other than the conventional use of Amaranth, there are cultural, and religious inclinations associated with this plant. This paper unveils some of these uses.
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History of Amaranth
This is an ancient crop with an American origin. This grain was considered and used by the Aztecs, Incas and Mayas as staple food (Berry, 2010). It is a grain that was highly valued by the American people in the 17th and the 18th centuries. When the Spanish colonialists conquered America, they banned the growth of Amaranth, thus extinction for a period of time. In spite of the restrictions by the colonialist, the grain was preserved in the mountainous Central and South America. Amaranth rapidly spread all over the world and gained its fame in the 17th century. To this date, Amaranth grain is still used. The commonly used species today include Amaranthus hypochondriacus, Amaranthus caudatus, and Amaranthus cruentus. In the ancient Mexico, it was produced in large scales, but today it is only produced in small scales (Berry, 2010). This was a crop that was proffered by the ancient farmers because it was attracting good income. It is easy to harvest and it has high portentous value compared to other grains, which only have little nutritional value. The grain is also easy to cook. The plant is also weedy, thus enabling it to produce more grains that are advantageous in producing more grains, thus high crop yield.
Amaranth was highly revered by the ancient Colombians. It acted as an icon of cultural blend, it was a religious symbol, and it had colorful historical claims besides being a highly valued nutritious food (Cole, 2007). It was permeated with supernatural powers, thus it served as a part of religious ceremonies. Amaranth was mixed with human blood and then the dough made into the shape of the idols, which were consumed by people in the sacrificial ceremonies. In Mexico, the seeds are made into a finer texture and mixed with sugar. This mixture is used to make confessions. It is also roasted to make preferred drink, which is traditionally prepared. The Amaranth seed is also used for payments. Its weed was used for compensations and as useful gifts for special occasions to exceptional people.
According to the Seasons of our lives, (1985), there are several other uses of Amaranth. They are used to treat toothache, headache, and fever. Dancers use Amaranth seeds for decoration. Amaranth flowers are also used as rouge by the dancers. The grain is also used to make medicinal substance for treatments of diseases. This is a valuable plant that is beneficial and thus forming a major item for trade all over the world. Amaranth with its nutritional value is used for beverages and drinks.
This research shifts my perspective and thinking about food. Previously, in my belief, I knew that foods are meant for consumption, and that makes the end of the food. In case of Amaranth, I knew that it was a grain meant for domestic use only. This research has enlightened me on how plants can be accorded high value by the society. It is surprising to know that culturally, there are supernatural powers believed to have its dwelling in the plant. Since this plant is used for medicinal purposes, it is a valuable plant that should be used by everyone.
In conclusion, this research presents Amaranth as a crop that was highly valued. Even though, it may not be valued today for its religious significances, its value cannot be ignored since it has a great nutritious value. This research is enlightening because it brings out the historical value of Amaranth from the ancient days.