Superfood of the Incas … Stolen by Yuppies
The trendiest new staple at your local Whole Foods is probably quinoa, an Andean grain so high in minerals, protein, and amino acids that the FAO says it can be substituted for mother's milk. Quinoa was introduced to the North American market three decades ago, but since 2000 it has really taken off, with the price jumping nearly sevenfold. That's great news for the Bolivian farmers who produce the vast majority of the world's supply, but it may be bad news for the country's health. With their country now exporting around 90 percent of its quinoa crop, many Bolivians simply can't afford it anymore. Domestic quinoa consumption has fallen 34 percent in the last five years, and health officials fear a rise in obesity rates as Bolivians abandon the highly nutritious grain they've enjoyed since the time of the Incas and switch to imported staples like rice and white bread. President Evo Morales's government has even designated quinoa a "strategic" foodstuff and included it in a subsidized food parcel for pregnant women. But more drastic measures may be needed to keep up with the insatiable demand of Western foodies. Let's hope for Egypt's sake that the Whole Foods set doesn't develop a taste for koshary anytime soon.
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