The Quinoa Conundrum
We've all come to love quinoa for it's health benefits and it's culinary attributes. More than a complimentary chewy, nutty dish, quinoa is a perfect amnio acid-balanced protein, a superfood that has for centuries sustained the Incas of Bolivia.
But recently, I was disconcerted to read in the New York Times that our enthusiasm for this seed that is harvested from the Andean plant pictured here, has driven up the price in Bolivia. This boon has made the dietary staple unaffordable for those who rely on it as a cultural culinary legacy and a solution to pervasive malnutrition.
While the popularity of quinoa stateside has certainly boosted the income and quality of life for quinoa farmers, it's success is a paradoxical conundrum, another reminder of the complexities of sustainability in a global economy. So what is an ethical consumer to do?
I suppose there are no perfect answers but perhaps rather than always buying imported quinoa, occasionally take the the time to source quinoa grown stateside. White Mountain Farm in Colorado offers one pound bags for $5.99.
In the meantime, let's hope the Bolivian government's efforts to subsidize responsible quinoa production and to make it available to those who can no longer afford it, work. Otherwise, there's a risk that a whole population turns away from a healthy, historically rich quinoa tradition to less nutritious processed grains and foods.