Quinoa (KEEN-WA not kin-o-ah), is quite frankly considered a miracle food. Everyone loves carbs and who’d have thought we’d find a time when we can eat something that can act as a substitute for our beloved pasta or rice but with way less carbs and way more protein. You can have it with chicken to make it super protein-y for all you meat-heads or add it to a salad for all you aspiring Madeleine Shaws – either way, it’s a great replacement or addition, is easily flavoured and fills you up too. So surely it must be a miracle…
But no, sadly it’s not quite perfect. It doesn’t actually taste the same; its not as easy to cook and well, its not quite pasta at all, but what’s more important, is that beyond what part it plays in the kitchen, eating quinoa is not quite the clean eating we’d hoped for.
Originating from and harvested in countries such as Peru and Bolivia, the recent climb in demand from the likes of Europe and the US has naturally caused the price of the grain to rocket across the globe. Farmers on one hand are seeing their incomes rise nicely, whilst on the other hand, those who had previously relied on quinoa as their staple food item are now struggling to afford it and are having to rely on other, less nutritious, imported products whilst their stomachs and pockets simultaneously get emptier. The income distribution becomes more unequal and an economy relying heavily on exports is at danger when quinoa eventually gets shoved to the back of the cupboard to make room for the next craze.
And obviously this isn’t just the case with quinoa. Food trends nowadays become more and more obscure and hence come from further afield. Television programmes such as Jamie Oliver’s Super Food are increasing our awareness for these foodstuffs and the nutritious benefits they currently have on the locals and could have on us in the Western world. This is all great if you don’t think beyond putting it on your plate, but the more popular these products become over here, the more expensive they’ll become for those who rely heavily on them to survive and that’s something we should think more about before joining in on the latest fad.
The world is becoming a much smaller place and for the sake of our palettes this is a fantastic thing as we now have access to so many different foods, both nutritious and delicious. But that being said, we mustn’t forget our roles as hugely powerful consumers versus the less developed economies, patiently counting their pennies at what can only be described as the checkouts of the global supermarket.
Pictures are not my own.