Skip to main content

An unpalatable truth!

Quinoa has for the last years been the "new" food on the block for foodies. Known for its health properties, foodies the world over have taken to it. Many restaurants have added it to their menu. But, as this piece "Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa?" from The Guardian so clearly details, the cost to Bolivians and Peruvians - from where quinoa hails - has been substantial.

"Not long ago, quinoa was just an obscure Peruvian grain you could only buy in wholefood shops. We struggled to pronounce it (it's keen-wa, not qui-no-a), yet it was feted by food lovers as a novel addition to the familiar ranks of couscous and rice. Dieticians clucked over quinoa approvingly because it ticked the low-fat box and fitted in with government healthy eating advice to "base your meals on starchy foods".

Adventurous eaters liked its slightly bitter taste and the little white curls that formed around the grains. Vegans embraced quinoa as a credibly nutritious substitute for meat. Unusual among grains, quinoa has a high protein content (between 14%-18%), and it contains all those pesky, yet essential, amino acids needed for good health that can prove so elusive to vegetarians who prefer not to pop food supplements.

Sales took off. Quinoa was, in marketing speak, the "miracle grain of the Andes", a healthy, right-on, ethical addition to the meat avoider's larder (no dead animals, just a crop that doesn't feel pain). Consequently, the price shot up – it has tripled since 2006 – with more rarified black, red and "royal" types commanding particularly handsome premiums.

But there is an unpalatable truth to face for those of us with a bag of quinoa in the larder. The appetite of countries such as ours for this grainhas pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it. Imported junk food is cheaper. In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken. Outside the cities, and fuelled by overseas demand, the pressure is on to turn land that once produced a portfolio of diverse crops into quinoa monoculture.

In fact, the quinoa trade is yet another troubling example of a damaging north-south exchange, with well-intentioned health and ethics-led consumers here unwittingly driving poverty there. It's beginning to look like a cautionary tale of how a focus on exporting premium foods can damage the producer country's food security. Feeding our apparently insatiable 365-day-a-year hunger for this luxury vegetable, Peru has also cornered the world market in asparagus. Result? In the arid Ica region where Peruvian asparagus production is concentrated, this thirsty export vegetable has depleted the water resources on which local people depend. NGOs report that asparagus labourers toil in sub-standard conditions and cannot afford to feed their children while fat cat exporters and foreign supermarkets cream off the profits. That's the pedigree of all those bunches of pricy spears on supermarket shelves.

Soya, a foodstuff beloved of the vegan lobby as an alternative to dairy products, is another problematic import, one that drives environmental destruction [see footnote]. Embarrassingly, for those who portray it as a progressive alternative to planet-destroying meat, soya production is now one of the two main causes of deforestation in South America, along with cattle ranching, where vast expanses of forest and grassland have been felled to make way for huge plantations."

 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Donald T: First seduced..... then betrayed!

All those supporters of Trump - who, heaven's only knows, got him headed for the White House - are in a for more than a rude awakening and shock.   Whatever Trump "promised" is just not going to happen....as Paul Krugman so clearly spells out in his latest op-ed piece "Seduced and Betrayed by Donald Trump" in The New York Times.

"Donald Trump won the Electoral College (though not the popular vote) on the strength of overwhelming support from working-class whites, who feel left behind by a changing economy and society. And they’re about to get their reward — the same reward that, throughout Mr. Trump’s career, has come to everyone who trusted his good intentions. Think Trump University.

Yes, the white working class is about to be betrayed.

The evidence of that coming betrayal is obvious in the choice of an array of pro-corporate, anti-labor figures for key positions. In particular, the most important story of the week — seriously, people, stop focusing on Trum…

Snooping..... at its worst

The Brits have just brought in legislation which allows for unprecedented "snooping" in a Western democracy - says Edward Snowden.   Let truthdig explain....

"On Tuesday, the United Kingdom instated the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, a piece of legislation described by whistleblower Edward Snowden as “the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy.”

The law, informally known as the “Snooper’s Charter,” spent over a year in Parliament before it was passed. The Guardian reported:

"The new surveillance law requires web and phone companies to store everyone’s web browsing histories for 12 months and give the police, security services and official agencies unprecedented access to the data.

It also provides the security services and police with new powers to hack into computers and phones and to collect communications data in bulk. The law requires judges to sign off police requests to view journalists’ call and web records, but the measure has been descri…

A "Muslim Register"

Outrageous is the word which immediately comes to mind - the idea of a  Muslim Register which Trump has floated.     And how and by or through whom would this Registry comes into being?    Let The Intercept explain.....

"Every American corporation, from the largest conglomerate to the smallest firm, should ask itself right now: Will we do business with the Trump administration to further its most extreme, draconian goals? Or will we resist?

This question is perhaps most important for the country’s tech companies, which are particularly valuable partners for a budding authoritarian. The Intercept contacted nine of the most prominent such firms, from Facebook to Booz Allen Hamilton, to ask if they would sell their services to help create a national Muslim registry, an idea recently resurfaced by Donald Trump’s transition team. Only Twitter said no.

Shortly after the election, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty wrote a personal letter to President-elect Trump in which she offered her congratulation…