Updated: Monday, 21 January 2013 22:50 | By Relaxnews

The quinoa dilemma: Eat healthy or eat ethical?

A story highlighting the glaring paradox of quinoa, a wildly trendy grain particularly popular among vegans and health-conscious consumers is getting worldwide attention after being revisited this week in the UK.


The quinoa dilemma: Eat healthy or eat ethical?

The quinoa dilemma: Eat healthy or eat ethical?

The argument presented in The Guardian poses an ethical dilemma particularly to vegans and vegetarians who tout it as a superfood: the grain is high in protein, gluten-free and low in fat.

But as a consequence of its explosive popularity in the West, the grain that has been a staple in the Andean diet is experiencing soaring price hikes in producing nations like Peru and Bolivia, points out the Guardian, a reality the author calls “an unpalatable truth to face.”

“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,” writes Joanna Blythman. “Imported junk food is cheaper. In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken.”

Meanwhile, at Bolivia’s lobbying, the Latin America and Caribbean division of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has declared 2013 the International Year of the Quinoa.

It’s not the first time the media has taken notice of this conundrum. In 2011, The New York Times also broached the subject.

A follow-up to the story in Canada, however, adds that many of the world’s food staples such as potatoes, tomatoes and corn started off as regional foods and subsistence farming before eventually going global.

Other protein-rich vegetarian options include lentils, bulgur, beans, tofu and other soy-based products.

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