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From Kosher Today (Monday, March 20, 2006)


(Chicago) Each year rabbis are asked to determine the Kosher for Passover status of “new” foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and even kitchen utensils. This year, Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, the rabbinic head of the Chicago Rabbinical Council, ruled that quinoa, the seed of a leafy plant that’s distantly related to spinach, is kosher for the holiday (begins on the eve of April 12th).

Said Rabbi Schwartz: “After discerning the classification of this type [of plant, I found] that this is a new thing altogether [and] that it is not included in the types of kitniyot which are known and were recognized by all the Ashkenazim, it appears to me that it is permissible on Passover as there is not any tradition of prohibition that fall upon it to forbid it, and since according to scientists it is altogether a type of grass and is not similar to legumes there is no [reason to] be stringent to forbid it on Passover.” Quinoa has excellent reserves of protein, and unlike other grains, is not missing the amino acid lysine, so the protein is more complete (a trait it shares with other “non-true” grains such as buckwheat and amaranth). The World Health Organization has rated the quality of protein in quinoa at least equivalent to that in milk. Quinoa offers more iron than other grains and contains high levels of potassium and riboflavin, as well as other B vitamins: B6, niacin, and thiamin. It is also a good source of magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese, and has some foliate (folic acid). Quinoa thrives in poor soil, arid climates, and mountainous altitudes. Today, most quinoa is imported from South America, although it is being cultivated on the high slopes of the Colorado Rockies. (end of story)
Of course the rabbi is correct. The list of kitniyot is a closed list. We are not supposed to add to it. In and of itself, that is a great reason to allow Quinoa. The fact that it is not a true grain might be a really great second reason. And a super good third reason is that because there is no tradition of using Quinoa for bread in Europe, the Ashkenazim never forbade it in the first place. So what we have here is a rabbi allowing us to use something that we have been allowed to use all along.

Wow, not bad! But wait, the chumra of the week crowd has yet to speak!