Our love for quinoa is sadly making the staple too expensive for South America
When I first heard about quinoa a few years ago, I was doubtful but jumped on the bang wagon pretty quickly. At the time, I was trying to get healthier and everyone that I knew (who was either trying to lose weight or just improve their eating habits) was raving about quinoa. So, I tried it and LOVED it! Now it turns out that our new obsession with quinoa is actually really hurting the natives of Peru and Bolivia, where the seed (commonly considered a grain) is cultivated.
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According to The Guardian, the popularity of the protein-rich, low-fat "superfood" has skyrocketed so much that the price of the "miracle grain of the Andes" (as marketers call it) has tripled since 2006 and now it's so expensive that the poor people in Peru and Bolivia, who depended on quinoa as one of their main nourishing staple foods, can't afford it anymore.
In fact, junk food is actually cheaper! I guess that makes sense, considering that it's about the same here in the U.S. and now we're bringing the same kind of culture to South America. In fact, in Lima, quinoa costs more than chicken. Chicken! How can a simple little seed cost more? The new high demand is also turning farm land into ONLY developing and growing it, instead of the many other fruits and vegetables and grains that these farms used to produce in the past.
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I honestly can't believe that my love for quinoa (and, obviously, everyone else's new appreciation for it) is causing this to happen. Although I don't think that I could stop eating it (it's seriously one of my favorite staples), it really upsets me to know that the people who first discovered this seed and depend on it are actually now suffering and not able to have this nutritious staple. I can only hope this will turn around so that we can ALL benefit from the nutritious greatness of quinoa.
Images via Irina Gonzalez/flickr