Keen need to think again about quinoa
January 17, 2013 8:58 AM   Subscribe

The costs of importing non-native foodstuffs: Despite the call to vegans in the headline, this is an issue that effects all eaters as international lands are stripped to feed the appetites of more wealthy nations. The appetite of countries such as ours for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it. Imported junk food is cheaper. In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken.
posted by weeyin (77 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Know what? I don't even like it, tried it, and could not digest it properly. I feel terrible that people who actually love this grain can't get it any more.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:01 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I liked Vegansaurus' response to the finger-pointing and shaming of the Grauniad article (which really does ignore a whole lotta shit).
posted by Kitteh at 9:07 AM on January 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


Amen Katjusa!

That said, why hasn't quinoa picked up more domestic production? I would think with the demand, American farmers in the arid west would be driving the price into the hole by now?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:09 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


What a weird article. The vegansaurus response seems fairly spot-on.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:11 AM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I wonder if the footnote correction about soy was in response to that Vegansaurus article?
posted by orme at 9:14 AM on January 17, 2013


No! Do not make this gluten intolerant person feel bad about eating quinoa.
posted by Napierzaza at 9:16 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sure that the farmers would love to see their crop prices fall. Trade != imported junk.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:17 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's this kind of problem (among others) that is forcing Haitians to eat dirt in order to survive.
posted by Melismata at 9:19 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the problem with moralizing about food. It bites you on the ass even if you are vegan.
posted by srboisvert at 9:20 AM on January 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


A friend of mine from McGill posted elsewhere re: this article: "ALSO: worth pointing out that quinoa is easy to grow in vertical hydro farms, which can be done efficiently in North America, paying workers min. wage, but it hasn't been set up large scale because exploitation is cheaper. Thanks for blaming capitalism on vegans, Guardian. I see what you did there."
posted by Kitteh at 9:20 AM on January 17, 2013 [25 favorites]


The vegan dig is just a bit of trolling. It did its work, which was to get this article to go viral with anti-vegan types, who have been lording it over those righteous legume-eaters.

The update to the article belies its stupidity: 97% of soy goes to feeding livestock. The majority of corn goes to livestock, as well, and a steadily increasing share of wheat does as well (as wheat boards have been dismantled in Australia and now Canada, grading processes are slipping as well, and quantity is trumping quality of grain). And there's the rub: the real problem is not vegans choosing to eat quinoa, it's unfettered market liberalism being expected to somehow feed the poor.

The markets will not feed the poor. The markets will feed whatever pays them the most money. If that's a cow feedlot operation, then the markets will feed cows and let the poor starve. It's that simple.
posted by mek at 9:21 AM on January 17, 2013 [59 favorites]


I don't have much to add (globalized capitalism harms workers! industrial commoditized food production has chaotic harmful consequences to the already disadvantaged!) but this awesome clip of Ira Glass speaking insightfully about the nature of craft happens to make a related (but not exactly similar) point, from years and years ago.

As to what we can do as eaters, my opinion is cribbed from (mefi's own) Melissa McEwen's post about it:

What would happen in Western health nuts stopped eating quinoa? Would this benefit the people there somehow? I guess it's more fun to blame trendy dieters than to face larger issues of water scarcity (and water pricing and allocation) and middlemen.

...

It is a bit amusing to consider how consumption of far away foods lets us turn a blind eye to their production (it's far), which is why I tend to advocate food systems that bring people closer to their food production- and its consequences.


She's also been talking about domestic quinoa production of late, if you're keen on that.
posted by daveliepmann at 9:26 AM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


The best part of that veganasaurus article is the discovery that some of them apparently refer to the nonvegans/nonvegetarians of the world as "OMNIS".

I may append that to my professional title.
posted by elizardbits at 9:28 AM on January 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


The vegansaurus article seems to focus on the fact that someone wants to blame vegans for this, and I can understand vegans not wanting to be blamed. But that seems like nothing compared to the fact that people who raise quinoa can't afford to eat it anymore.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:28 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Good thing I'm a vegan who hates quinoa, I guess.
posted by freakazoid at 9:29 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The best part of that veganasaurus article is the discovery that some of them apparently refer to the nonvegans of the world as "OMNIS".

I do that. It's easier that way when referring to other people's dietary preference.
posted by Kitteh at 9:33 AM on January 17, 2013


Thank you, it makes me feel irrationally powerful.
posted by elizardbits at 9:34 AM on January 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


The best part of that veganasaurus article is the discovery that some of them apparently refer to the nonvegans/nonvegetarians of the world as "OMNIS".

As a former Anarchy Online player, Omnis are those priveleged jerks with the better guarded cities and better Fixer gear.
posted by Foosnark at 9:37 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


TIL you can't grow vegetables in England
posted by DU at 9:38 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Was quinoa really that much of a staple in Peru and Boliva? I spent a few months biking in the central Peruvian highlands about ten years ago. I ate a lot at the kind of restaurant where there isn't a menu, you get what they're serving, and I was never once served quinoa. Lots of rice and potatoes, though. Maybe it's a regional thing.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 9:38 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The vegansaurus article seems to focus on the fact that someone wants to blame vegans for this, and I can understand vegans not wanting to be blamed. But that seems like nothing compared to the fact that people who raise quinoa can't afford to eat it anymore.

Sure, but the blame for that lies with capitalists, not with vegans. That's their point.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:40 AM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


........FFS please stop the whining butthurt and individual my-lifestyle-is-better-than-your-lifestyle finger-pointing of carnivores, omnivores, flexitarians, pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans (and for all I know, aquavores and atmosophages) whenever someone points out that consuming their product du-jour causes pain/misery/problems.

There should be one response to this: SYSTEMIC ISSUE. Capitalism fail. Ignoring Externalities fail. It's so tiresome to read environmental issues, food security issues, workers rights issues, minimum wage issues, justice issues through a haze of morality and self-righteousness and my worldview-is-better-than-yours.

Fix the system to take into account externalities or all of these piecemeal approaches are deckchairs-on-the-titanic stuff.
posted by lalochezia at 9:40 AM on January 17, 2013 [42 favorites]


But that seems like nothing compared to the fact that people who raise quinoa can't afford to eat it anymore.

blaming a group who is certainly not the problem doesn't help them either. if help is what this article wanted to do, it would have been about the whole scale of the problem, not finger pointing at an honestly tiny group of people.
posted by nadawi at 9:41 AM on January 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


...and for all I know, aquavores and atmosophages...

Do not crack wise about the cleansing fast of Galactus, mortal. The universe itself trembles when the Devourer of Worlds is backed up.
posted by griphus at 9:45 AM on January 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Was quinoa really that much of a staple in Peru and Boliva?

Yes, and you're right about how regional it is. Most of it is iirc grown at 3k m and above.
posted by elizardbits at 9:46 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's also very easy to buy non-problematic quinoa, in the UK at least.
posted by ominous_paws at 9:47 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


There should be one response to this: SYSTEMIC ISSUE. Capitalism fail. Ignoring Externalities fail.

This. See the recent article in the NYT about biofuels and the effect on corn prices and that effect on people in places like Guatemala, who actually, you know, eat it for food.
posted by rtha at 9:50 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


There should be one response to this: SYSTEMIC ISSUE. Capitalism fail. Ignoring Externalities fail. It's so tiresome to read environmental issues, food security issues, workers rights issues, minimum wage issues, justice issues through a haze of morality and self-righteousness and my worldview-is-better-than-yours.

And to be clear. I am neither vegan nor vegetarian (very much enjoyed a pulled pork sandwich yesterday as a matter of fact), but I do have a package of quinoa on my shelf. In fact, I put it out of my Facebook yesterday (after reading this article), and nobody who responded to having some quinoa kicking around was vegan.

As always, we all seem to be part of the problem.
posted by philip-random at 9:50 AM on January 17, 2013


I would like a pulled pork sandwich.

Quinoa is genuinely a diet staple in our household because of food-allergic afflicted and gluten intolerant husband. I'm sorry I'm making the world suck more, but our other option would be rice all day, every day.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:53 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seems like the problem is that the difference in price between what the quinoa growers get and what the American consumer pays is quite large.

From what I understand, such problems are caused or exacerbated by so called "free trade" treaties and asymmetrical power relationships between producers and marketers...

So much for the "makers and takers" narrative.
posted by twjordan at 9:56 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry I'm making the world suck more, but our other option would be rice all day, every day.

My God! Won't you think of those poor, starving kids in Vietnam?!?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:56 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


> "But that seems like nothing compared to the fact that people who raise quinoa can't afford to eat it anymore."

Well, sure, but the article's headline and text puts the blame on vegans for some reason, and it's rather offputting to read, "People are STARVING in BOLIVIA because of YOU and YOUR INSATIABLE DEMAND FOR QUINOA!!!!! ... (somehow, despite the fact that vegans are less than 1% of the population most places and most of them maybe eat quinoa once a month, if that)."

Not to mention that linked article doesn't exactly have a lot of, let's say, nuance to it, considering that the rising price of quinoa is also changing the lives of farmers. "Before people didn't go to study," [Ernesto Choquetopa] says. "They were born, they grew up, and that was it. They went on to herd sheep and llamas. Nothing more. Now people here, we think about doing something with our lives." Thanks to his earnings from quinoa, Choquetopa's oldest daughter is now in medical school.

The same article that quote comes from, while acknowledging the potential problem of rising prices, also notes that the Bolivian government is backing quinoa by doing things like supporting loans to small farmers and giving rations to pregnant women and young children, and worry that a drop in production would hurt the country's "strategy to fight malnutrition."

So, perhaps telling vegans to stop eating quinoa will not instantly solve all the problems in Bolivia? And perhaps a sudden drop in the price of quinoa, crashing a profitable market and reducing the supply, might have unintended consequences as well?

Maybe, just maybe, life is a liiiiittle bit more complicated than the article in the FPP would seem to imply.
posted by kyrademon at 9:57 AM on January 17, 2013 [30 favorites]


Portlandia trumpets the real danger of quinoa and vegan diets.
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 9:59 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This was the plan all along to destabilize the Andean nations and bring them under the boot heels of Yanqui hegemony.

Next time, please cooperate with us with our "War on Drugs" and when we want to privatize your national resources.
posted by Renoroc at 10:04 AM on January 17, 2013


The vegansaurus article seems to focus on the fact that someone wants to blame vegans for this, and I can understand vegans not wanting to be blamed. But that seems like nothing compared to the fact that people who raise quinoa can't afford to eat it anymore.

I mean, someone may build a Mercedes but be unable to afford to drive one. That doesn't really mean anything if they are being paid a fair wage. If the farmers are getting a fair price for their crop, they can eat lentils and rice instead. Not buying quinoa doesn't seem to solve anything.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:17 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the pointer, kyrademon. The Guardian post read kind of bullshitty to me, and the veganosaurus retort not particularly enlightening.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:18 AM on January 17, 2013


Sure, but the blame for that lies with capitalists, not with vegans. That's their point.

If that's SOMEONE'S point, fine, but it's not the point of the vegansaurus article.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:24 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the farmers are getting a fair price for their crop, they can eat lentils and rice instead.

I think the point here is not just that they aren't getting a fair wage but that their already low wages are insufficient to buy simple staple foods and they are having to move to eating poorly nutritional imported processed foods.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:25 AM on January 17, 2013


I didn't like quinoa until we learned how to clean it properly. Now I'm shocked how many people don't know that quinoa will taste like shit unless you clean it. Despite being one of those people who didn't know. So, yeah. If you don't like quinoa, that's fine, but consider that if you didn't like it because it made you sick or because it tasted like a muskrat's arse then it wasn't properly cleaned.

And that "cleaning" procedure is to keep flushing fresh water into your quinoa until the water runs completely clean, then strain it, then rinse it again, then strain it and probably rinse it again. Yeah, rinse it one more time than you really think you need to.

I like it with a dash of brown sugar, but it also is super tasty in savory dishes.

Honestly, though, millet is pretty darn good too, and is a standard North American grain product. Amaranth is kind of gluey but is probably the best steel cut oatmeal substitute. (Assuming you're not eating oats because they have gluten in them, this is what you might want instead.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:27 AM on January 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't even like it, tried it, and could not digest it properly.

Really? Me too. I mean, like, peristalsis grinds to a halt for 24 hours, and it just sits there in my stomach. This experiment has been replicated numerous times. It's the strangest thing. It's too bad, though, because I do like it.
posted by HotToddy at 10:29 AM on January 17, 2013


It's not just quinoa, ethanol is having a similar effect.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:29 AM on January 17, 2013


I think the point here is not just that they aren't getting a fair wage but that their already low wages are insufficient to buy simple staple foods and they are having to move to eating poorly nutritional imported processed foods.

What the article claims is that quinoa is more expensive than junk food, which I can believe because it is a trendy product you can't exactly grow everywhere. I don't see the claims that rice and lentils are more expensive. Beans and rice tend to be among the cheapest options everywhere.

A lack of fair wages is obviously a problem with agriculture in general.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:31 AM on January 17, 2013


Thanks for trying to frame the FPP more helpfully than that godawful article, weeyin. I saw it earlier today and I think parts of my brain fused together from the sheer stupidity of it. I'm really disappointed with the Guardian/Observer this week. Unfortunately, although it's done its clickbaiting job, the weird focus of the article seems to have successfully derailed an actually interesting and important story.

Here's a more sensible news piece on the topic from the Grauniad, three days ago. kyrademon, thanks for the NPR link too—I'm about to eat my (non-quinoa-based) dinner but I'll read it afterwards. Hopefully, when I get back, there'll be a great thread to read here too. :)
posted by daisyk at 10:34 AM on January 17, 2013


What the article claims is that quinoa is more expensive than junk food, which I can believe because it is a trendy product you can't exactly grow everywhere. I don't see the claims that rice and lentils are more expensive. Beans and rice tend to be among the cheapest options everywhere.

Intererstingly, Monday's Guardian article on quinoa argues the opposite, that it is in fact the higher prices they're getting for quinoa that are driving andeans to eat more expensive imported junk foods!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:38 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Intererstingly, Monday's Guardian article on quinoa argues the opposite, that it is in fact the higher prices they're getting for quinoa that are driving andeans to eat more expensive imported junk foods!

Yeah, that's how I had heard the story before over the past few years. Junk food is delicious and easy, folks.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:40 AM on January 17, 2013


I liked Vegansaurus' response to the finger-pointing

The response:
Isn’t this old news? [...] did it take two years to come up with that stomach pun? [...] Why is this just our problem? [...] If anyone should be embarrassed, it’s meat-eaters.
Now that's thoughtful.
posted by Chuckles at 10:40 AM on January 17, 2013


This is the problem with moralizing about food. It bites you on the ass even if you are vegan.

I know these jalapenos are going to bite me in the ass in a few hours.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:04 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


but our other option would be rice all day, every day.

This would be heaven for our two sons, who demand rice at least twice a day. If you're looking to make the switch to rice, try Koshihikari grown in California or Texas. Tastes great.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:09 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is kind of ringing my B.S. meter. It's a terrible thing that Andean farmers have a marketable crop? Will their lives improve if Northerners stop buying their products?

The general way cash crops work is that by selling something that produces a profit, you can afford to buy what you actually eat. If this process isn't working, the Guardian article doesn't explain why.

This isn't to say that there aren't ecological issues in food production. E.g. Peru's major crop is rice, which requires heavy irrigation in a largely desert climate. Production is 2.7 million tons, which dwarfs the 42,000 tons of quinoa.
posted by zompist at 11:12 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Soya, a foodstuff beloved of the vegan lobby as an alternative to dairy products, is another problematic import, one that drives environmental destruction...

...To clarify: while soya is found in a variety of health products, the majority of production - 97% according to the UN report of 2006 - is used for animal feed.
I love how what is in effect a correction is called a "clarification". But it doesn't go nearly far enough: has she looked at the ingredients on any mass-market processed food for mainstream consumers? Big agribusiness loves soy and they put it in everything. This "foodstuff beloved of the vegan lobby" and "found in health products" stuff is pure trolling.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:28 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm starting to feel like I'm seeing way more shit-stirring articles designed to generate clicks on The Guardian these days. It used to be my occasional treat for reasonably sensible news browsing, but I think I'm going to have to slot it into the journawhore category soon.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:44 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


If the poor Peruvians and Bolivians are not better off by us paying more for their crops, then the cause does not lie in us paying more. To suggest so is plainly idiotic. The problem is that the additional wealth is not getting to the poor Peruvians and Bolivians, or that the government needs to subsidize domestic markets using some of the wealth off of us 1st worlders. Paying more for their crop is exactly the right thing to do; making sure they actually benefit is also the right thing to do.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:44 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I wrote yesterday, the indigenous people of North America also grew a very closely related grain, one that stopped being cultivated when that society died out, but lives on in your backyard as the weed Lamb's Quarters. It's already a good salad green, I wonder how many generations of selective breeding it would take to bring it back to high grain production?
In gathering the seeds, the women undoubtedly dropped some in the sunny environment and disturbed soil of a settlement, and those seeds sprouted and thrived. Over time, women learned to sow the seeds and to clear the ground of any competitive vegetation. The seeds which germinated quickest (i.e. thinner seed coats) and the plants which grew fastest were the most likely to be tended, harvested, and replanted. Over time, first through a process of unconscious selection and, later, conscious selection, the domesticated weeds became more productive. The seeds of some species became substantially larger and/or their seed coats were less thick compared to the wild plants. Conversely, when Indians quit growing these plants, as they did later, their seeds reverted within a few years to the size they had been in the wild.[8]
There are also a bunch of related sub species that were once cultivated in Europe.

I mean, as I pointed it, it wasn't long ago that rapeseed was considered inedible, even poisonous, and thanks to selective breeding it is now a part of our food supply. It seems even a bit more feasible than trying to grow quinoa in North America, which seems to have a very specific ecological niche. Some people who have tried have called it "cursed."

Imagine- here is a grain that has an indigenous pedigree, grows like a weed, is gluten-free, and is pretty nutritious. Someone please start a Kickstarter already for this project.
posted by melissam at 11:48 AM on January 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


This is kind of ringing my B.S. meter. It's a terrible thing that Andean farmers have a marketable crop? Will their lives improve if Northerners stop buying their products?

Yeah, we're pretty accustomed to thinking of Peruvians and other southern peoples as being victims, and there's a certain satisfaction in blaming ourselves. However, the commodities boom of the past few years has helped transform Peru's economy.

Ideally, you wouldn't have farmers at 3000m scratching out a living by growing subsistence crops.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:56 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Imagine- here is a grain that has an indigenous pedigree, grows like a weed, is gluten-free, and is pretty nutritious. Someone please start a Kickstarter already for this project.

Interesting. Wikipedia suggests it is still being cultivated in Mexico. May not have to do any breeding. Start your farm and call the New York Times so you can start a foodie trend.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:56 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting. Wikipedia suggests it is still being cultivated in Mexico. May not have to do any breeding. Start your farm and call the New York Times so you can start a foodie trend.

Yeah, that one has been selectively bred to be a broccoli-looking vegetable though (quite a versatile plant huh?). I couldn't find anything about it being cultivated as a seed anymore.
posted by melissam at 12:00 PM on January 17, 2013


Quinoa grows just fine in Colorado. Our locavore restaurant uses it instead of rice, which my Asian-American wife thinks is racist. Well, you can't make everybody happy. But at least I ain't taking food out of the mouth of a Peruvian peasant.
posted by kozad at 12:10 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Quinoa grows just fine in Colorado. Our locavore restaurant uses it instead of rice, which my Asian-American wife thinks is racist. Well, you can't make everybody happy. But at least I ain't taking food out of the mouth of a Peruvian peasant.

No, but you're taking away a Peruvian peasant's ability to send his kids to college.

See. Now you both can feel awful.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:20 PM on January 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


This is what infuriates me about my globalization-squawcking economist and economics-major friends: they insist that we're bestowing godlike largesse on these countries by developing their exports, but the indigenous people actually get bupkus out of it. Big agribusiness, or at best, the local equivalent of big agribusiness in the form of well-connected families, pretty much get everything, and now local subsistence farmers can fail to make a living wage growing crops for export for somebody else. See the Peruvian asparagus industry for details.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:24 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Canadian grown quiona is available... I don't even remember the last time I had quinoa. I don't really consider myself an ethical person so I haven't a dog in this fight.
posted by glip at 12:31 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Quinoa grows just fine in Colorado. Our locavore restaurant uses it instead of rice, which my Asian-American wife thinks is racist. Well, you can't make everybody happy. But at least I ain't taking food out of the mouth of a Peruvian peasant.

On a large enough scale to replace imports?
posted by melissam at 1:05 PM on January 17, 2013


Imagine- here is a grain that has an indigenous pedigree, grows like a weed, is gluten-free, and is pretty nutritious. Someone please start a Kickstarter already for this project.

Interesting. Wikipedia suggests it is still being cultivated in Mexico. May not have to do any breeding. Start your farm and call the New York Times so you can start a foodie trend.


Now, if I could just get rid of all that goddamn amaranth, dandelion, and burdock that grow up in my garden and kill the tomatoes!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:17 PM on January 17, 2013


Why is everyone calling the Guardian "the Grauniad"? It's messing with my head because my last name is Grau.
posted by slogger at 1:50 PM on January 17, 2013


The Guardian was long famous for its typographical errors. "Grauniad" is their almost universally-understood nickname in Britain. It's affectionate enough, and they're in on the joke themselves. At least to the extent that "grauniad.co.uk" redirects to their real site.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:55 PM on January 17, 2013


The same author wrote a piece in 2008 subtitled "Why going veggie is not British."
posted by mek at 2:14 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whoa, whoa, whoa. Too much is happening here. At first I was concerned because I enjoy quinoa, and then I lost a great deal of respect for the Guardian for publishing that veg*n-baiting drivel from that deepy irritating woman, and then Kitteh provided that awesome Vegansaurus link, and then I felt like a bad person for no longer being vegan, and now I don't even know if this is real life.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 2:38 PM on January 17, 2013


I am neither vegan nor vegetarian (very much enjoyed a pulled pork sandwich yesterday as a matter of fact)

Yeah, we got it. When you said you weren't vegan or vegetarian, we deduced through reasoning that you probably ate some meat at some point somewhere in your life and either choked it down because it was inevitable, or even experienced some small or large degree of pleasure. You don't have to establish your bona fides. There's not gonna be a background check. Nobody's going to call and ask for references.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 2:46 PM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


A person who eats meat

wants to get his teeth into something

A person who does not eat meat

wants to get his teeth into something else

If these thoughts interest you for even a moment

you are lost
posted by KokuRyu at 2:52 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Quinoa is already too expensive. Is the price really going up?
posted by smackfu at 3:45 PM on January 17, 2013


Why is everyone calling the Guardian "the Grauniad"? It's messing with my head because my last name is Grau.

The Guardian used to ship the early part of its daily print run to the south of the UK and the later part to the north, and they'd catch typesetting errors as they went. So the Guardian Londoners would see would have more spelling and typesetting errors than the one seen up north.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:36 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Quinoa brings riches to the Andes

The Guardian, Monday 14 January 2013
posted by kmennie at 6:52 PM on January 17, 2013


That Guardian article is sensationalistic bullshit:

http://www.coha.org/quinoa-economic-growth-hindering-economic-development/
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:38 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find it rather illuminating that none of the replies either here in the thread, or in that quite entitled-sounding Veganosaurus response, address the key point raised in the Guardian piece, that of food-security in Peru and Bolivia. The Council on Hemispherical Affairs' piece linked to above is slightly better, in that it at least talks about some policy response in Bolivia, but whether you blame it on capitalism or Vegans or Omnis or aliens, the fact remains that quinoa consumption,in Peru at least if not Bolivia, has gone down as a result of globalization.

That is the primary issue here; whether it makes western consumers feel better or worse about themselves is an entirely frivolous headline-pun at best, or a moot point at worst. That the primary zeitgeist so far has centered around guilt or blame just shows how wide the divide between the global north and south is.
posted by the cydonian at 10:47 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's just as patronizing to assume that Latin American countries are all failures. Peru is actually doing quite well. The economy has been growing at an average of 6% for the last ten years; the poverty rate has dropped in that time from 48% to 28%, and per capita income is up 50%.

As I said above, Peru produces 500 times as much rice as quinoa. It's certainly an irony that quinoa has become expensive, but the original article's assertion that this is somehow causing "poverty" is itself poorly researched nonsense.
posted by zompist at 12:20 AM on January 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Killer quinoa? Time to debunk these urban food myths
posted by Dasein at 9:11 AM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here's the Guardian editorializing in 2005 that keeping African farmers' produce out of Europe because of agricultural subsidies "does great damage to Africa." They're right. The most important way to improve farmers' lives in developing is to give them access to international markets - and international market prices - for their produce.
posted by Dasein at 10:29 AM on January 19, 2013


The Media's Quinoa Wars
It’s common for media debates in the Global North to be simplistic. In this case, when the debate almost entirely obscures the real issues at hand, it can be downright pernicious.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:24 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


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