Quinoa & False Repetition

Are we wrong to buy and eat quinoa? Are we hurting Bolivians and Peruvians?

There is a good piece on “The Quinoa Story” in Bear Witness:


Is the fact that foodies are buying quinoa up making things bad for the growers? Should we stop eating it? Bearwitness has its doubts.  They doubt the facts as presented and they suspect the motives of the piece from NPR. Their whole post (above) is worth reading.


And here is a good comment on that piece by Bart Hall (one of many) which paints a different picture than the NPR summary.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA)20 January 2013 16:09

I’m an agronomist who speaks Spanish with near-native fluency and enough Quechua to be polite. Over the years I’ve worked extensively with quinoa growers in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador. If anything you understate your case against NPR. For most small farmers it is a wonderful opportunity to find cash markets for a product which grows well on your land, especially since quinoa isn’t a source of starch so much as a protein supplement.

The major Andean starches are potatoes, and in more remote areas a couple of unrelated tubers called oca and ulluco. At lower altitudes they eat more yuca, which is manioc, and (upland) rice. For protein they commonly eat mutton and guinea pig (which is delicious), along with faba beans, eggs, quinoa, some cheese and red beans. Pork, too, at lower elevations.

Many’s the time I have greatly enjoyed a simple meal of mot”e’e (potatoes and faba beans with firey lachwa sauce) and caldo de cuy (guinea pig stew) thickened with potatoes and quinoa.

The real food starch problem is in Mexico and Central America where the diet is largely corn-based. The American political ethanol boondoggle has driven corm prices so high the locals can’t afford it, so the do without. Not so in the Andes.


What is going on? Why are newspapers around the world building strong support for this erroneous story? The Guardian. The Globe. The New York Times.


The Globe story asks us whether or not we’d give up buying this? Why would it do that? Why are none of the major papers who have repeated this very dubious story done any back ground checking? Who put out the first press release? Why?


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