Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quinoa, The Mother Grain

Quinoa, long referred to by the Inca Indians as "The Mother Grain," is the chief crop of the South American Andes region which contains countries such as Bolivia and Peru. Quinoa is an absolutely massive crop that has been plentiful in the region since.....the time of the Incas. Recently however, the demand for quinoa around the world has driven the price of quinoa so high that most Bolivians and Peruvians can no longer afford their native product. The price of quinoa in these areas is now more expensive than chicken! The cost of quinoa has almost tripled in the last 5 years. And "foodies" around the world are coming under blame.

Why the concern over quinoa prices? For one, quinoa is about the most protein dense grain there is in the world and many of these people from Bolivia and Peru, essentially live off of it. Bolivia for example, is already a nation where 50% of the children 6 months to 5 years of age suffer from malnutrition and 54 out of 1,000 die during childhood. For their own food to become more unaffordable is not a good thing. And two, without quinoa these people have to turn to some type of food source, and it almost certainly has become one that is not as healthy as quinoa. It essentially is changing a culture's diet.
While I'm not sure that foodies are solely to blame for the ever-rising cost of quinoa, it is very interesting to read how the global demand of a product so greatly effects not only the cost of a region's product, but also their diet. It's also why the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa! With their main goal to halve world hunger by 2015.

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