It was barely a year ago that I first discovered the delightful taste of Quinoa ( pronounced KEEN-wa ). It’s described by some as “the world’s most perfect food”. Historically, it’s remembered as “the grain of the Gods”.
It goes back thousands of years in places like Peru and Bolivia, and in more recent years it has become a favourite cash crop for farmers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It has strong appeal for those favouring vegan or gluten free diets. In many kitchens it’s beating out rice or potatoes more and more.
Diversification in agriculture is a wonderful thing, especially when it produces products that are healthy. None other than the United Nations has declared 2013 to be “The International Year of Quinoa”.
It’s all good, unless you happen to live in places like Peru and Bolivia where it all began. I remind you that we live in the Global Economy. It means most people pay world prices, even for stuff that comes from the neighbourhood.
The price of quinoa has tripled in the past six years, and there’s no reason to think that it won’t keep climbing because of the huge demand, particularly in North America. In Lima, Peru, quinoa now costs more than chicken.
So, the people there who grow it, who don’t travel anywhere near the ‘fast lane’, can no longer afford to buy quinoa. Instead, they end up buying more cheap junk food from heaven knows where.
It reminded me of my first visit to Hawaii years ago when I learned that the Hawaiian pineapple I have loved since the day I was born is probably produced somewhere other than Hawaii these days. That’s because it’s a lot cheaper to grow it and process it in places like the Philippines.
Isn’t this what they call the ‘race to the bottom’? Next you’ll be telling me that Lake Winnipeg Goldeye doesn’t come from Lake Winnipeg.
I’m Roger Currie
You can listen to Roger Currie’s commentary by clicking on the link below: