璀璨百年原生種台灣藜

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2015 / 1月

文‧劉嫈楓 圖‧林格立


當來自南美洲的藜麥在國際掀起熱潮,成為明星眼中的養生聖品、全球因應糧食危機的救荒食物,很多人卻不知道,台灣原民部落藏著一株株原生自本土的「台灣藜」。

這個擁有百年歷史,有著紅、黃鮮豔顏色,猶如璀璨寶石的穀類,不但為台灣生態再添多樣性﹔如今,更成為歷經八八風災原民部落重溫家園記憶、延續部落傳統的嶄新起點。


隨著健康養生風潮當道,高營養價值、分布於南美洲安地斯山脈的藜麥,儼然成為全球最夯的「超級食物」,不僅受到歐美明星競相追捧;耐旱、易栽作的特性,更讓聯合國將其列為力抗糧食危機的「救荒食物」。而在台灣,一簇簇以紅、黃等鮮豔顏色出現,被證明為原生種的「台灣藜」,歷史更已長達百年。

3年調查,「台灣藜」正名

2008年受林務局委託,為紅藜揭開身世之謎的屏東科技大學森林系教授郭耀綸表示,紅藜是台灣原民部落常見的作物。早年糧食稀缺,上山打獵的原住民時常隨身攜帶輕巧、高營養的紅藜食用。不過,隨著原住民遷徙至平地,加上小米、芋頭其餘雜糧作物取得容易,紅藜始終被視為配角,僅於小米播種時零星出現,或用作小米酒發酵酒麴,以及部落慶典時,被編織成美麗頭飾配戴。即使具有耐旱、易種的特性,但直至今日,紅藜都沒有大規模栽種,以至於許多原住民新世代並不熟悉。

專研台灣生物多樣性的郭耀綸,也是經由學生林志忠才認識了紅藜。2005年,他接任屏東科技大學生物多樣性中心主任,專研高屏一帶生物多樣性的議題,開始著手調查紅藜。

郭耀綸表示,當時紅藜相關研究一片空白,僅有台東農改場研究員郭進成提出的零星調查。於是,研究成員分頭前往美國、英國、荷蘭等大學機構與博物館比對標本。經過3年,團隊成員中山大學生物科學系教授楊遠波,才在日本京都大學標本館找到外形、特徵相符的標本。

原來過去被以「食用藜」、「赤藜」、「紫藜」稱呼的紅藜,早在1940年就經由日人調查判定為台灣原生種,並標誌為「台灣藜(Chenopodium formosanum)。一度因為顏色鮮豔、長相奇特,被誤為是外來種的紅藜,終於獲得正名。

這項調查結果不僅對台灣生物多樣性極具意義,調查過程中更發現,1918年台灣曾歷經嚴重旱災與寒害,平地農作歉收,惟獨南部原住民靠著台灣藜順利度過飢荒。如今,當全球急於找尋糧食危機解方時,才發現原來台灣藜早跨越時空,在近百年前就已成功達成一次「救荒」任務。

部落媽媽將台灣藜推上國際

經過屏科大團隊的研究,紅藜漸為人知,政府、民間與研究單位相繼投入推廣。2014年,紅藜在台灣原味創辦人吳美貌的努力下,登上義大利慢食大會,並與紅糯米、紫糯米、糯小米4項台灣原生植物種子登錄於「品味方舟」資料庫,於國際綻放光芒。

曾任職財團法人台灣生物技術開發中心副研究員的吳美貌,2001年罹癌後,轉而投入推動有機農業,並成立「台灣味」社會企業。多年來,她致力將有機、友善大地的耕作理念引入原民部落,因而贏得「部落媽媽」的稱號。其中最為人知曉的,就是她協助因長年失去電力,而有著「黑暗部落」之稱的花蓮富里鄉「達蘭埠(Talampo)」,轉作有機農業的故事。

2008年,吳美貌應邀至台東金峰鄉分享輔導部落經驗,在當地瞥見大片五彩繽紛的紅藜,留下深刻印象。

當時,曾透過吳美貌牽線,順利與花蓮奇美部落展開洛神契作的里仁有機通路,恰巧找上門尋求其它作物開發新產品。吳美貌想到了紅藜,開始在台東、花蓮輔導農民進行有機栽作。

第一年試栽僅收成近百斤,由於量少價高,難以打入大眾市場。吳美貌轉而找上合作多年的集賢庇護工廠廠長陳宇恬,將紅藜包裝為精美的禮盒,透過動人的故事,將紅藜介紹給更多人。

2013年,她在台灣好食協會會議結識於義大利慢食大學就讀的郭又甄,因而促成隔年她參加兩年一度的「義大利慢食大會」。原來,郭又甄將「台灣原味」輔導台灣原住民部落的故事,撰寫為課堂案例。消息輾轉傳至慢食大會委員耳中,該委員力邀吳美貌參加慢食大會,分享經驗。紅藜就此躍上國際舞台,各界也得以一窺這個來自台灣的作物。

百年作物,重振部落經濟

2009年,莫拉克風災重創高雄、屏東一帶,不少原住民部落因家園毀壞,被迫遷村。歷史悠久的紅藜,竟意外成為重振部落經濟的起點。

2012年,可樂穀農場總經理謝振昌,與屏東、台東的部落農民展開契作。身為原住民女婿,謝振昌早已透過排灣族太太認識紅藜。他自物流公司退休後,有意投入農業,於是想到熟悉的紅藜。

然而,當時認識紅藜的人並不多,朋友紛紛勸他改種檸檬、鳳梨等經濟價值較高的作物。但在美國UCLA就讀企管碩士的女兒告知,高營養價值的藜麥全球當紅,極具栽種潛力。謝振昌即在屏東內埔展開試種,成為台灣少數投入栽作紅藜的先行者。

2009年,莫拉克風災發生後,不少災區原住民被迫離開家園,心情、生計大受影響,氣氛一片低迷。曾參與921大地震南投信義鄉重建工作,並在莫拉克風災後投入第一線復原工作的長治百合部落重建工作室專案經理宋金山表示,當時遷移至屏東長治鄉百合部落的6個原住民部落、兩百五十多戶居民中,在不到半年的時間裡,就有37位因為打擊過大,思鄉心切,相繼辭世。

重建團隊想方設法,希望撫平災民傷痛。2013年,宋金山經由屏東縣農業處牽線,得知謝振昌正投入紅藜栽作,因此提出合作計畫,希望透過雙方契作,讓居民找回家鄉「原」味。

雙方的契作一開始並不順利。原來曾有商人與居民契作種植辣椒,最後卻因市場行情大跌,拒絕收購,使得農民損失慘重。因此,民眾一聽聞「契作」,紛紛投以懷疑眼光,擔心二度傷害。

經過再三保證與提出高於市場行情的收購價,居民終於卸下心防願意合作,並在耕作中逐漸恢復元氣。今年高齡80的巴清一,風災後遷往平地居住,離開熟悉的山林原野,原本的他鎮日鬱鬱寡歡,直到接觸紅藜,才重新振作起來。退役回家陪伴父親的巴文雄說,父親開始種植紅藜後,笑容多了,也更有活力了。而他們這才發現,兒時記憶裡用來釀製小米酒的紅藜,原來富含如此高的營養與經濟價值。

「希望透過紅藜契作,帶動部落經濟,」謝振昌表示。除了持續擴大契作面積,他與屏科大教授蔡碧仁產學合作,將紅藜製成餅乾食品;此外,他還大手筆投資千萬研發篩選設備。

謝振昌表示,紅藜在各式惡劣土壤地質環境的適應力極高,易於生長。不過,比小米細小的藜穗,後端加工程序極為複雜,必須歷經12道加工手續,才能製成產品。因此,他特地研發揀選設備,讓原來透過人工篩選的效率,大幅提升。

隨著國際熱度持續加溫,台灣藜知名度漸漸打開,主動上門洽談的農戶越來越多。台東多良、高雄那瑪夏、南投信義都有不少人有意合作。與謝振昌合作不久的台東原愛工坊,除了耕作紅藜,還進一步結合原住民傳統布藝創作,包裝紅藜產品,由內而外彰顯原住民的生活智慧。

隨著健康與糧食議題日益受到關注,過往總以配角般陪襯出現的「台灣藜」,一躍成為當紅新星,帶著豔紅、鮮黃的璀璨色彩,在惡土旱地中,展現本土的強勁生命力。

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EN

Taiwan Quinoa—An Ancient Native Variety

Liu Yingfeng /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Geoff Hegarty and Sophia Chen

South American quinoa has become known worldwide as a fad food, a health diet for celebrities, and a source of nutrition with a potential role in global food security. But not many people know that Taiwan has its own native quinoa, traditionally cultivated by the island’s indigenous peoples.

This is a centuries-old red and yellow grain, and like a bright gem, it adds to significantly to Taiwan’s ecological diversity. But it also played an unforeseen role in restoring the homeland traditions and practices of the nation’s Aboriginal tribes after the disaster of Typhoon Mo­rakot.


With a rise in the popularity of healthy foods, quinoa has become a stayer. Originating in the Andes Mountains of South America, its high nutritional value has earned it the title of a superfood. And it has been well received by not only the rich and famous: with the world facing endangered food security, the grain is also regarded as a possible “rescue food” by the UN because of its drought resistance and ease of growing. In Taiwan, red quinoa has been shown to be native to the region, with a history of cultivation going back at least a century.

The mystery

A project to uncover the origins of Taiwan quinoa was commissioned in 2008 by the Forestry Bureau of the Council of Agriculture (COA). Kuo Yau-lun, professor in the Department of Forestry at National Ping­tung University of Science and Technology (NPUST), says that red quinoa is a common food of Taiwan’s Aboriginal peoples. In earlier years when food was scarce, Aborigines often carried the highly nutritious red quinoa with them when they went hunting in the mountains. However, because they tended to move around, they found that other crops such as millet and taro were more accessible. Red quinoa, though tolerant to dry conditions and easy to grow, was a minor part of their diet. Even today, red quinoa isn’t planted on a large scale, so few of the younger Aboriginal­ people are familiar with its benefits.

Even Kuo, an acknowledged specialist in ­Taiwan’s unique biodiversity, came to know red quinoa only through one of his students, Lin Zhi­zhong. In 2005 Kuo took over as director of the Bio­divers­ity Research Center at NPUST, and began research into issues of biodiversity in the Kao­hsiung and Ping­tung region. It was then that he began focusing on red quinoa.

Kuo notes that at that time there was no relevant academic data about red quinoa. The only reference they could find was a short report by Kuo Chin-­cheng, a researcher at the COA’s Tai­tung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station. So Kuo Yau-lun and his research team went to colleges and museums in the US, Britain, and the Netherlands to compare botanical specimens. After three years, one of the team members, Yang Yuen-bo, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at National Sun Yat-sen University, found a specimen in Kyoto University’s Herbarium whose morphology and features matched Taiwan quinoa.

Red quinoa had been known under a number of names. As early as 1940, Japanese researchers concluded that the variety was native to Taiwan and named it Chenopodium formosanum. With the rediscovery of this research, red quinoa, with its bright colors and unusual features, which had been mistakenly regarded as an exotic, was again recognized as a native species.

This research not only contributed significantly to knowledge of Taiwan’s ecological diversity; it also uncovered a little-known fact. In 1918, Taiwan experienced severe hardship brought by drought and very cold weather, and many people found it difficult to survive due to poor harvests on the plains. The Aboriginals of the southern regions of Taiwan, however, pulled through the famine mainly because they relied on red quinoa to survive. Today when the world is in urgent need of finding solutions for global food security issues, it is important to realize that Taiwan quinoa rescued a generation nearly a century ago.

To the world

Thanks to NPUST’s research, red quinoa has gradually become better known, and government and private research institutions have put some effort into its promotion. In 2014, Wu Mei-mao, founder of Taiwan Way, registered four varieties of Taiwan native seeds—red quinoa, millet, glutinous millet and maqaw (Litsea cubeba, “mountain pepper”)—in the catalogue of the Ark of Taste, a project of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. Thus Taiwan quinoa is gaining exposure with the international community.

Wu had been a research associate at the Development Center for Biotechnology, but she changed her focus to promoting organic farming in 2001 after she discovered that she was suffering from cancer. Then in 2008 she gave up her job, and two years later founded social enterprise Taiwan Way. Over the years, Wu became committed to bringing the concepts of organic and earth-friendly farming to Aboriginal communities. She has thus gained the title of “tribal mother.” One well-known story is of the help she gave to the Amis village of Ta­lampo in Fuli Township, Hua­lien County, to change to organic farming. Ta­lampo is nicknamed “the dark village,” as the people there have always lived without electric power.

In 2008, when Wu was invited to Jin­feng Township in Tai­­tung County to share her experiences in assisting Aboriginal communities, she saw a large field of colorful red quinoa, and after a brief introduction to its properties, became deeply impressed by the species.

At that time, organic produce retail chain Lee­zen Co. was looking around for opportunities to develop new products from traditionally cultivated varieties. The company had recently worked with Ki­wit Village in Hua­lien County to produce roselle fruit, a project initiated by Wu Mei-mao. So Lee­zen again looked to Wu for advice. Recalling her vision of red quinoa growing in Tai­tung, she and the company advised farmers in Tai­tung and Hua­lien to try growing organic red quinoa.

In 2013 at the Taiwan Good Food Association Conference, Wu met Guo You­zhen, a postgraduate student at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in the Piedmont region of Italy. The meeting provided an opportunity for Wu to attend Slow Food’s biennial conference in Turin in 2014, the ­culmination of a series of coincidences. After meeting Wu, Guo adapted Wu’s story for a case study examining Taiwan Way’s assistance to Taiwan’s Aboriginal communities. The news spread to the committee of Slow Food, which decided to invite Wu to attend the Slow Food Conference to share her experiences. Red quinoa thus made its entrance onto the world stage, providing the first glimpse for the global community of this “new” crop from Taiwan.

Reviving tribal economies

In 2009, Typhoon Mo­rakot hit hard in the Kao­hsiung and Ping­tung region. Many Aboriginal communities lost their homes and were forced to move to new areas. But their traditional crop of red quinoa once again came to the rescue, initiating a revival of the Aboriginal tribal economy.

In 2012, ­Hsieh Chen-­chang, general manager of organic farm operator ­Kullku Co., made contracts with a number of Aboriginal villages in Ping­tung and Tai­tung to grow red quinoa. ­Hsieh’s wife is Aboriginal, so he had long known about red quinoa through his wife’s Pai­wan tribe background. Four years ago, he retired from a logistics operation, intending to invest in agriculture. He recalled the fine qualities of red quinoa, and thus became one of a few pioneer investors in Taiwan red quinoa.

After the devastation of Typhoon Mo­rakot in 2009, the displacement affecting Aboriginal communities created both emotional and economic gloom. Song Jin­shan recalls one sad occasion. He had been involved in 921 Earthquake reconstruction work in ­Xinyi Township, Nantou­ County. After Typhoon Mo­rakot, he became project manager in the front line of reconstruction work for the ­Baihe community in Chang­zhi Township, Ping­tung County. Six villages—a total of over 250 households—moved into the new community, but less than half a year later, 37 of the new residents had passed away. The impact of the disaster, exacerbated by homesickness, had been too much for them to bear.

The reconstruction team tried hard to heal their pain. In 2013, through the Ping­tung County Department of Agriculture, Song heard about ­Hsieh’s plan to invest in planting red quinoa. Song proposed a plan of cooperation, and hoped that through a system of contracted farming, the new residents of ­Baihe would rediscover the original “flavor” of their hometown.

Ba ­Qingyi, one of the residents, is 80 years old. After the disaster, he left the mountain with many of his tribes­people to live in the new community. At the beginning, he wasn’t happy, but after starting work with red quinoa, his spirit revived. His son Ba Wen­xiong retired from military service and went home to look after his father. He says that a smile returned to his father’s face, and he became more energetic after planting red quinoa. They also delighted in the fact that red quinoa, which in their childhood memories was used to brew wine, had such a high nutritional and economic value.

As the global popularity of quinoa swells, Taiwan quinoa is also becoming increasingly popular on the domestic market. Many people are becoming involved in production, including farmers from Duo­liang Township in Tai­tung, Na­ma­xia Township in Kao­hsiung, and ­Xinyi Township in Nan­tou. After the cooperative project with ­Hsieh, the Original-Love Woodworking Workshop, in addition to cultivating red quinoa, expanded its use of traditional Aboriginal handicrafts in packaging red quinoa products, highlighting the values of Aboriginal life.

While global health and food security remain two of the most concerning issues in today’s world, the growing knowledge of Taiwan quinoa has overcome the ignorance of the past, and the grain is fast becoming a new star in 21st-century cuisine. With its bright red and yellow coloring, Taiwan quinoa’s ability to flourish in dry, barren soil seems somehow to symbolize its vitality.

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