Bustamante working to quicken the hunger for quinoa

Maria del Carmen Bustamante

Maria del Carmen Bustamante

Midday on Wednesday, Oct. 28, the eyes of the world will be on FIU when it will serve as the backdrop for a record-making attempt at the World’s Largest Quinoa Salad. One of the people behind making this attempt a reality is Dietetics & Nutrition master’s student, Maria del Carmen Bustamante.

“I was speaking with Peruvian chef Rosa Polo, who’s interested curbing the growing trend of childhood obesity. During that conversation, we discussed ideas to raise interest in quinoa, which has a very favorable nutritional profile due to its high protein and fiber content. It’s also a versatile food and can be prepared in many kid-friendly ways. That’s when the chef shared her dream of attempting a Guinness World Record event to bring attention to quinoa.”

It was then that Bustamante decided to make the chef’s dream come true.

From networking to logistics to nutrition expertise, she had her work cut out for her. After all, getting two educational institutions, a foreign consulate and an art museum to work together toward a common goal was no easy feat. But Bustamante is the type of person who gets people engaged and mobilized. As a result: FIU Stempel College; Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola in Peru and its Miami outpost, San Ignacio College; the local Peruvian Consulate; and the Frost Art Museum will all play a part in attempting to create a single platter of quinoa salad that’s expected to weigh in at more than 1,300 lbs.

Quinoa press conference

Bustamante stands to the right of the podium, as those she has enlisted into her quinoa effort, including professor Fatma Huffman, answer media questions.

Although officials from Guinness World Records will be on hand to verify, Bustamante underscores the fact that the end goal here isn’t about setting a world record. It’s about raising the profile of quinoa, a pseudocereal that can replace grains in many dishes.

Quinoa is a major export of Peru, where it’s been consumed for millennia. More recently, there’s been interest in quinoa from the rest of the world, so the idea behind the event is to raise quinoa’s profile now, so that it can be employed in the fight against childhood obesity instead of becoming just another passing food trend.

Born in Miami to Peruvian parents, Bustamante received her bachelor’s degree in Peru. Afterward, she came to FIU where she first earned her MBA in Healthcare Management, but her interest in health lead her to pursue another degree in–this time, in Dietetics & Nutrition. She’s currently on track to graduate in fall 2016 and plans to continue her education, here at FIU.


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