There’s a Super Plant That Could Solve The Global Food Crisis

It was once outlawed.

Jessica Wildfire
4 min readJun 14, 2022


Adobe Stock

For thousands of years, the first Americans cultivated a blood red plant that supported their entire civilization. They grew it along with corn, beans, and squash for most of their food.

The Aztecs used it in human sacrifice rituals, mixing it with blood to make small, edible statues of the sun god Huitzilopotchli.

They ate them as candy.

Then the Europeans arrived.

The Spanish conquistadors hated amaranth.

So did the Catholic Church.

In 1519 Hernán Cortés led a group of 450 soldiers through Mexico, looking for gold. Instead he found an advanced civilization, and decided to destroy it. The conquistadors annihilated their infrastructure, but they also waged war on their entire culture. Not only did Cortés ban religious sacrifice, he outlawed amaranth itself. They burned entire fields. Farmers who planted it would have their hands chopped off.

The conquistadors almost wiped amaranth off the face of the earth, all in the name of their own deity.

As you can imagine, the war on amaranth wasn’t just about eradicating paganism or human sacrifice. Cortés singled out the plant for its practical and symbolic value. Between killing off a key source of food, and introducing diseases like smallpox, European colonizers were able able to impose their will on an entire continent.

It worked.

Amaranth could save us all.

We’re lucky that amaranth survived the purge.

We’re going to need it.

In case you haven’t read the news, the world is staring down a food crisis. That’s putting things mildly. We’ve become reliant on a handful of crops that don’t do very well in heat and drought. Extreme weather and war have put everyone on hunger watch. Hundreds of millions of people are facing starvation, and the damage is already happening.

We use wheat, corn, and soy for almost everything. We use it for animal feed. We use it in almost all of our processed foods. Without these crops, we’re pretty screwed. It’s our fault.