Learning about quinoa, a South American staple

Quinoa

CFCA families in Bolivia harvest quinoa and other crops to be able to feed their families.

By Emily Soetaert, CFCA correspondent

If you’re aware of healthy eating trends or are environmentally conscious, chances are you’ve heard of (and may have eaten) quinoa.

Pronounced “keen-WAH,” this South American grain has recently taken the western world by storm. Its unusual taste and high nutrition value (particularly in the protein area) give many a reason to love it.

What we may not know, however, is that increased demand for quinoa has created some unintended consequences.

Before quinoa’s spike in popularity, the crop could be purchased in Bolivia for less than $4 a pound. That price has more than doubled to $8 a pound.

Many South American families who previously relied on quinoa for daily nourishment can no longer afford to purchase it.

According to a column in The Guardian, for many people living in Peru and Bolivia, quinoa now costs more than chicken because of rising costs and overseas demands.

Adelio, who helps cultivate quinoa and is the father of a sponsored child, Pamela, in Bolivia, said quinoa is an important food in the local diet.

“Families in rural areas usually eat what they produce, and quinoa is part of their diets,” Adelio said. “Quinoa is a very fragile crop to produce, and it takes about six months before picking the crop.”

Fortunately, families in the CFCA program in Bolivia still have access to this dietary staple.

“We still have families who work farming the quinoa as well as other crops to be able to feed their families,” Adelio said. “They help each other by trading crops that they produce over the years.”

Through sponsorship support and their own ingenuity, families in the CFCA program are able to cope with economic challenges such as rising food prices.

Besides its nutritional value, quinoa has the added benefit of being an environmentally friendly crop.

“The demand for quinoa is large because it is a natural product, which does not require chemicals to enhance it,” Adelio said. “For this reason, it is less harmful for the environment.”

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