A lot of quinoa-lovers have hit the existential slides in recent times, thanks to a story published in the Guardian regarding the evidently negative effects of purchasing imported quinoa.
The appetite of the states such as ours for this granule has pushed up its prices to such a level that poorer people living in Bolivia and Peru, for whom it was once a nutritious staple food, are unable to afford it and eat it.
This was one of the numerous stories published in the previous few years by the likes of NPR, the New York Times and the Associated Press, that draw mind to the harmful aspects of the explosion in world demand for quinoa. Some, like the Guardian, even showed the extreme of guilt-tripping readers, to discourage people buying it.
But the thought that international demand for quinoa is causing excessive harm where it’s produced is a generalization at best. At worst, discouraging quinoa demand could end up hurting manufacturers instead of helping them.
Majority of the quinoa in the world is grown on the altiplano, a huge, cold, barren, and infertile 14,000-foot Andean plateau across parts of Bolivia and Peru. Quinoa is one of the few things that are produced there, and its high price implies more profitable opportunities for the local farmers in one of the underprivileged regions of South America.
An analysis conducted by Emma Banks for the Andean Information Network writes about many of this quinoa related controversies and questions with a tone mostly absent from the press reports.
The impact of increasing food prices is multifaceted and encompasses food security and sovereignty debates. Food security leads to having sufficient to eat, while food sovereignty implies having a say in the food system. These get affected differently in diverse places by growing prices.