Against the grain

By The Economist online

Watch out or a vegan will snatch it

IS THE global fad for quinoa a bane or boon to the peasants of the Andes? For centuries they were more or less the only people to grow or eat the stuff. Dieticians in the rich world have known how nutritious it is for a long time: in 1993 a study by NASA, America’s space agency, stated: “While no single food can supply all the essential life-sustaining nutrients, quinoa comes as close as any other in the plant or animal kingdom.” But it took adulation from the likes of Oprah Winfrey (who in 2008 included it in her 21-day “cleanse” diet) to give the grain global appeal. Now, wherever yuppies can be found, it can be too, usually lurking near Puy lentils or goji berries in a salad. The UN even branded 2013 the International Year of Quinoa.

As demand galloped ahead, supply could not keep pace. So between 2000 and its peak in 2014, the average price of quinoa exports from Peru and Bolivia more than tripled, to $6-7 a kilogram. That panicked the Guardian, a British newspaper, among other hand-wringers: in 2013 it ran the headline “Can vegans stomach the…

Read more here:: The Economist – Economics