#Quinoa: To Buy or Not To Buy…Is This The Right Question?
The UN has designated 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa and has high hopes for its role in the fight against world hunger. The crop is becoming increasingly popular, with health enthusiasts heralding it as a “super-food”; however, the question surrounding this popularity’s impact on quinoa growers in the Andes is also topical, and contentious. Critics claim that the mounting demand for the super-grain increases its price and makes it inaccessible to poor Bolivians who rely heavily on it for nutrients. Others, including the UN, argue that the farmers are benefiting economically from the high demand for the crop. In either case, the responsibility is placed on the consumer: to boycott its sale or to increase it. This article argues that it is not consumer habits that are affecting the lives of the farmers; it is rather the system behind production that really calls for change. Cheap US wheat products saturate the Bolivian market, undermining the local food market and making it difficult for local farmers to compete. Furthermore, the farming of the crop is having harmful effects on the land and ecosystems as the government pushes for the mechanization of the production system.