First off, I enjoy quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) because of its versatility. It’s gluten free. Its protein is complete. It’s quick cooking (about 15 minutes compared to 40 for brown rice). One of my go-t0 meals is steamed veggies on a bed of quinoa.
Then last week I read this piece from Alter.net that Michael Pollan had posted on Twitter. Pollan is the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food. Pollan’s books turned me into somewhat of a foodie and made me more aware of where our food comes from — corn. And while Pollan still eats meat, I respect his opinions, even if I don’t always agree with them. The Alter.net article says that because we Westerners have started eating quinoa, we’re pricing it so that hungry Peruvians and Bolivians, for whom quinoa is a dietary staple, can no longer afford to buy quinoa. And instead, they’re eating more chicken (not good).
This week, I read this piece from Grist magazine’s blog. It’s in defense of eating quinoa by Westerners because the Peruvian and Bolivian farmers are now making more money. And if the farmers are making more money, their local economy improves. And the blog points out that there are farmers here in the U.S. who are learning to grow quinoa in our country.
So what’s a quinoa-loving U.S. citizen to do? I have always tried to make ethical consumer choices. I don’t want my decisions to negatively affect the world (although I know they do in far too many ways). For the time being I’m going to eat the quinoa we have on the shelf. When the time comes to buy more, I’ll think long and hard before buying.