Few stories have dominated the public perception about a food item more persistently than the 2013 article in the Guardian titled: ‘Can Vegans Stomach the Unpalatable Truth about Quinoa.’ The Economist now takes on the claim that increasing demand by western ‘food fadsters’ is driving the population in Peru and Bolivia into poverty and undernourishment.
The Economist article by Ms Soumaya Keynes, to which I was pleased to contribute myself, cites recent household surveys conducted in Peru to dismiss this claim as panicky. All to the contrary, rising prices have helped stimulate the local economy, while quinoa consumption only accounts for 0.5% of the average household expenditure in Peru and any theoretical negative effects have not been demonstrated.
Currently, it is the low quinoa price that causes concern among farmers. Traditional and new farmers alike are uncomfortable with the current shipping price of about US$2 per kg for conventional quinoa. But with the expansion of quinoa production to many new growing areas and countries, foodies may start to worry whether the traditional quinoa producers in Peru and Bolivia will be able to secure at least part of their position in this newly created market, which is still rapidly expanding.
One hopes that this most readable article would help to shift the debate about the effects of quinoa consumption to this more relevant discussion. I believe that the article can be accessed free of charge.