Cate (sheafrotherdon) wrote in pollanesque,

Link: Quinoa's Global Success Creates Quandry At Home

From yesterday's NYTimes:

demand for quinoa (pronounced KEE-no-ah) is soaring in rich countries, as American and European consumers discover the “lost crop” of the Incas. The surge has helped raise farmers’ incomes here in one of the hemisphere’s poorest countries. But there has been a notable trade-off: Fewer Bolivians can now afford it, hastening their embrace of cheaper, processed foods and raising fears of malnutrition in a country that has long struggled with it.
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In Peru, many people have taken to eating oatmeal imported from the US which is cheaper than locally grown quinoa, but at least it is minimally processed.

I suppose I'm part of the problem, I use quinoa in veggie soup to thicken it.
Although it's a double-edged sword, because as the article says, income levels have risen because of the market for quinoa. I'm trying to see if I can find any more information on ethical provisions. It's a hard one.
Aw, crap. :(
I'm trying to find more information about good buyers - there has to be (I'd hope) some way to continue to support raised incomes for the farmers without causing other hardships.
Guess it's time to go back to oat berries and couscous.
I'm torn - as the article said, incomes have risen for farmers growing the crop. I'm trying to find more information on ethically sourced quinoa, if there is such a thing.
): I admit I've picked up on the quinoa trend. I'll try and keep my consumption at a minimum.
except the consumption outside Bolivia is increasing incomes *within* Bolivia. It's a hard one. I'm trying to find information on ethically sourced quinoa.
Are there companies selling Quinoa that are taking steps to prevent the price disparity? Surely there's at least one responsible provider? :(
There must be - I'm doing some looking around and seeing what I can turn up.
It does sound like a thorny situation - the popularity of quinoa outside its region of origin has been good for people there in some ways and bad in others. So it's not as simple as "everyone should stop eating quinoa!"

And there are also other factors - in a lot of areas people are opting for processed North-American-style foods over traditional foods even where the traditional foods have not become trendy and hard to afford, just because of cultural influences. There are no easy answers to any of this. :-(
Times like these, it's good to remember that the choice to eat ethically, sustainably, etc. is itself a privilege that much of the world doesn't have.
Oof, that's ... head-scratchy. I mean, maybe somebody in the US might be able to cultivate some quinoa (hypothetical; I know nothing about what kind of environment it requires for growing), but if a good balance isn't struck, there goes the market for foreign quinoa. Which returns it to the locals, but gives local farmers less capital to continue growing quinoa, and probably reduces production levels to some degree. And afaik, there isn't really Fair Trade for quinoa yet, right?

(This is part of the reason why an all-locavore lifestyle would be very hard for me to follow. There are definitely more selfish components, such as liking tropical fruits and chocolate and being interested in food culture worldwide while not having the money to always travel there to have it in its "natural home," but it's also that the system is so intricately interwoven that the actions you do take have more repercussions than you'd guess.)