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National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan*
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Granary Jewelry Taiwanese Quinoa
Botanical Garden's Exhibition Gallery
April 10 - June 15, 2014

─ Good food. Good times.─

s we know, wheat, rice, corn and potatoes etc… are the main food sources for most humans. In view of the importance of integrating biodiversity science for human well-being, DEVERSITAS First Open Science Conference held in Oaxaca, Mexico in 2005 gathered experts in biology and ecology across the breadth of biodiversity science and made an appeal for some valuable and crucial but long-ignored aboriginal food such as quinoa.

Taiwanese Quinoa
Taiwanese Quinoa (Chenopodium formosanum Koidz.), known as "djulis", is a cereal plant traditionally called "ruby of cereals" for its bright red grain color and cultivated by the aboriginal people of Taiwan, whom plant and harvest in accordance with festive rituals. Djulis was recently discovered to have many useful properties. In fact, its nutritional value is considerable: it contains high amount of protein and dietary fiber, and the content and quality of its proteins are outstanding because of its essential amino acid composition; its biological value is comparable to casein; its phytochemicals including polyphenols and betanin pigment are well-known bioactive compounds and believed to be health protective. Besides, djulis can be used as a novel source of antioxidants and may provide a basis for its sustainable utilization in the food industry. Also, the young leaves of djulis are super vegetables, and because the ears of its flowers are bright, colorful, and mystical, changing from green to yellow to a violet red, the Paiwan and Rukai tribes used them in their headdresses. In modern times, they are excellent materials for flower arrangement or pressed flower art.

Djulis was once extensively cultivated in southern region by indigenous people (Lukai and Paiwan tribe) some hundreds of years ago and was used in the diet of the settlers. At present, it continues to be grown, but its marginalization began with the introduction of other crops, which eventually replaced it. Its reduction is also due to technical, economic and social reasons. To get djulis from farm to table requires farmers plenty of care and time. Yet, the prices received by farmers often do not justify their labor. That's why there are fewer and fewer people planting djulis now.

Aboriginal Children Visiting
The National Museum of Natural Science presents this djulis exhibition in partnership with the Bureau of Standards, Metrology & Inspection, R.O.C. and National Pingtung University of Science & Technology aiming at arousing people's consciousness of respecting and revering and conserving our natural wealth and ancestors' wisdom, which have come under severe threat recently due to various anthropogenic causes. Along with showcasing a variety of food and crafts made from djulis, the exhibition introduces the history, the value, the uses, and the cultivation of djulis through illustrations, live potted plants, and videos. Most of all, Granary Jewelry Taiwanese Quinoa teaches visitors how to tell a good diet from a bad one.

"The focus of Taiwan's agricultural structure has shifted from traditional farming of staple crops to production of consumer-oriented and higher-value commodities chosen for their market potential and technological advantage," said Dr. Chiu Shau-ting, the exhibition organizer and Curator of the Museum's Biology Department, at the exhibition opening reception, "Traditionally, djulis is a plant used to make millet wine. Nowadays, this plant is known for its health and beauty benefits. Cookies, millet porridge, or instant tea made of djulis are getting more and more popular now. The djulis garland on the girl used to represent honor and distinction, but now is simply worn for decoration," Chiu noted.

Sun & Chiu
The Museum Director Sun Wei-hsin added, "One of the objectives of our Botanical Garden is the presentation, on our premises, for our native plant heritage. Taiwanese Quinoa, the most beautiful plant I've ever seen, is unique and of scientific interest but threatened. It is hoped that this exhibition will raise public awareness concerning the conservation and dissemination of knowledge of Taiwanese Quinoa in general."

This exhibition is on display in the Botanical Garden Gallery from April 10 to June 15, 2014, and accompanied by a series of events related to djulis, including lectures, DIY activities and demonstrations. Make a date with the beautiful Taiwanese Quinoa and click here for details and event registration.

Granary Jewelry Taiwanese Quinoa exhibition is organized by the National Museum of Natural Science in collaboration with Pingtung University of Science & Technology. We are deeply honored that both exhibition and event are supported and endorsed by the Bureau of Standards, Metrology & Inspection, R.O.C..