Ethical Eats

Brought to you by Oxfam @ Queen's

What’s the deal with Quinoa?

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Oh Quinoa. It’s a low fat, high protein, nutritious, delicious and potentially an unethical grain. Not to long ago quinoa was an unheard of and largely unavailable Peruvian grain. Today it is celebrated by vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters alike. Through the usual process of supply and demand the price of quinoa has tripled over the last seven years. And it isn’t just in your local wholefood shop anymore. As a grain, its got amino acids and proteins that vegetarians can’t find in their usual diets without food supplements. 

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So what’s the problem? The demand from countries like ours for quinoa has made it unaffordable for the people in Peru and Bolivia who previously used it as a nourishing staple food. It’s also pressuring farmers to turn land that was once diverse crops into quinoa monoculture. 

This isn’t to blame vegetarians! In fact meat production is exacerbating climate change at a far more drastic rate. And it’s an inefficient way to use grain, creating a competing system for grain between feeding animals and the world’s poor. 

I think it’s important to keep in mind this holiday season how much impact we make as consumers. Every time we choose to sit down and enjoy a meal we are making some sort of influence on the global food system, and sometimes we can’t know how far that impact will go. But it’s important to be reminded that our small everyday choices have real weight. And isn’t being aware and considerate all part of this season anyway? 

These are the two articles I found while browsing this topic so feel free to check them out! There’s an interesting dialogue between these two journalists. 

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jan/22/quinoa-bolivian-farmers-meat-eaters-hunger

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jan/16/vegans-stomach-unpalatable-truth-quinoa    

-Krista

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