When Alfonso Tejada of Miami, Florida, established O.A. Foods in January of 2012, he was inspired by his family’s roots in Bolivia. Recognizing the demand for healthy, organic food combined with increasing interest in ancient grains, he decided that importing organically-grown quinoa from Bolivia would be a perfect business for him and his family.
Quinoa is a hardy plant, thrives in poor soil at high altitudes and is resistant to drought. It is the only plant food that provides all ten of the amino acids essential to human nutrition, has high protein content (14-18%), is a good source of phosphorus, calcium, iron and vitamin E, and is gluten-free. It has been called the “golden grain of the Andes,” and a “superfood.”
Although Quinoa has been a staple food for subsistence farmers in the South American Altiplano for centuries, it enjoyed little popularity in the wider society, being considered food that poor people ate simply because they had few options. That opinion began to change in 1987 after King Juan Carlos I of Spain visited Bolivia and started to include quinoa in his diet. Thirty years later, taking a good look at the beautiful pictures of delicious looking quinoa-based meals on the O.A. Food’s website proves that quinoa is now a popular food all over the world!
After a successful year marketing quinoa, in 2013, O.A. Foods added Chia, and in 2017 began to market Palmini, a pasta substitute made from hearts of palm. The quinoa is available in two different varieties and colors. The nutritional values are similar, but the texture is slightly different, and is primarily a matter of personal preference.
Even while creating and running a successful business, Tejada never forgot his commitment to the farmers in Bolivia or his belief that “the more we give back to others, the more our company will grow.” O.A. Foods donates 20% of its profits to support numerous projects helping the children of Bolivia, and to efforts assisting Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Dubai.