Record breaking Quin-NO-a salads

Today, the University will attempt to break the world record for creating the largest quinoa salad.

Quinoa is a grain found in both Peru and Bolivia and has gained mainstream recognition as a low-fat starch that serves as a healthy alternative to meat.

Due to its versatility and nutritional value, sales in quinoa have been on the rise, tripling since the year 2006. FIU may have seen the attention surrounding quinoa as a chance for the community to partake in some positive publicity, however, the University should have taken some factors into consideration before indulging in the quinoa hype.

As the sales of quinoa rapidly increase, so does the price as it pertains to the poor citizens of Peru and Bolivia. A staple in many Peruvian and Bolivian households, the prices of quinoa have risen to the point where Peru and Bolivia’s poorer citizens can no longer afford to buy the grain.

The result is imported junk food being cheaper than the quinoa grain.

In places like Lima, Peru the price of the grain has risen above that of chicken. As a result, government figures have indicated that domestic consumption of quinoa has dropped by a third within the last five years.

The exploitation of quinoa has resulted in other issues, such as land disputes among farmers and producers. Some farmers have even turned to violent means to obtain the land necessary to produce quinoa. These tensions increase as citizens of urban communities are now relocating to rural areas to grow and sell the quinoa grain.

Some argue that quinoa as a commodity can have a positive impact on the citizens of Peru and Bolivia.

Emma Banks for the Andean Information Network states that the commodity of the quinoa grain provides farmers with economic stability.

She also stated “This economic power has also translated into political power though producers’ associations and cooperatives.”  

Although the University’s intentions for gaining publicity through this record-breaking event were harmless, the use of quinoa plays into this food trend without acknowledging the impact that the quinoa fad has had on countries like Peru and Bolivia.

 

2 Comments on "Record breaking Quin-NO-a salads"

  1. Although I can respect the author’s concern for downtrodden indigenous people, this piece is off the mark.

    First and foremost, the date of the event is wrong. The event will be taking place on Oct. 28.

    Next, to quote a recent piece in Slate on the matter of quinoa, "The idea that worldwide demand for quinoa is causing undue harm where it’s produced is an oversimplification at best." Based on the available facts, that article states that discouraging demand for quinoa could actually end up hurting producers–Peruvians and Bolivians–rather than helping them. http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2013/01/quinoa_bad_for_bolivian_and_peruvian_farmers_ignore_the_media_hand_wringing.html

    Mother Jones also weighs in on both sides of the quinoa issue, yet their article doesn’t dissuade people from eating this nutritious food either: http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/01/quinoa-good-evil-or-just-really-complicated.

    I understand that this was an opinion piece, but it seems like is should have had facts and sources to back up the statements it contains and the conclusion that was arrived at.

  2. If I enjoy the taste of a food, I eat it. I suspect most people do the same. What’s happening is not "exploitation", it’s just the basic supply-and-demand laws which affect every product. Besides, if the same people stopped buying this food that they enjoy, they would probably be accused of depriving third-world farmers of funding. You just can’t win anymore.

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