Quinoa: Bolivia’s Fate?

custom poster

I created my poster because I want consumers to consider buying organic quinoa and in return supporting rural Bolivian farmers. My explicit message is to make sure you are buying organic quinoa to support Bolivian communities. My implied message is that buying organic quinoa will in return make Bolivians happy.

I want to imply in my poster that buying organic quinoa will make Bolivian children and or families happy. Within my poster I imply this by the two smiling children. Both of the kids I’ve portrayed are pretty clean cut for living in such conditions as they do. They are good looking kids too, which helps support my message that they are “normal” everyday children. Even though the kids are smiling and look clean, in the background you can still get a glimpse of their home and really see the poverty they live in. Although their living in such conditions they are still happy which I think makes one want to help.

The color of my font when I say “Support Bolivia” is white because I wanted it to be bright and illuminating also implying a good or brighter mood. It’s what I want people to be attracted to most. I’ve positioned the font in the center of my poster because that is the main message I want to be taken away, that in buying the right kind of quinoa you will be supporting Bolivia.

I want to imply in my poster that my target audience is not only consumers but adults, and middle to upper class wealthy white people. I feel this is implied by having children of color on the poster. Having children on the poster should speak to parents or adults. It may want to make people who do have children to take an interest in helping. Having children of color I feel also really speaks to white people. It may be assumed they live in a lesser conditions then yourself, which could motivate one to help. It may also be more common for white people to help people of color, than people of color to help people of color. The bag of quinoa implies consumers, since you find bags of quinoa in the grocery store. Also, written on the bag of quinoa it says Sonoma Valley Farms, through this detail I’m implying middle class to wealthy people are my target. This detail shows what kind of people may be consuming quinoa. Sonoma Valley is famous for middle to upper class people with money. I also think the stereotypical folk from Sonoma would like to believe all their food is coming from a local farm.

In return, people who see the poster may think organic is what people with money are buying. This could make people who may not be in my target audience to tune in and want to buy organic quinoa, if that’s what people who have money are doing.

The entire background of my poster is bright and grassy. I felt like the bright green would really catch people’s eye and draw them in. I wanted the design of my poster to speak “green”. This meaning organic, healthy, or good, this is what a lot of these fads are about these days. Everyone wants to go green and eat organic.

The wording on the quinoa bag which reads, “Ancient Blend,” I’ve implied that quinoa is a delicacy in which Bolivians have withheld for many generations.  When you hear ancient blend you automatically think that quinoa has been around forever, which don’t get me wrong it has. This little note only makes my point greater in supporting it. Someone who knows nothing about quinoa and hears that it’s the Bolivians ancient blend is going to assume anyone else that produces quinoa is bad. This also helps imply that there must be something really good about quinoa if it’s been around for many, many years.

In even smaller print on the bag it reads gluten free. To me this is just a bombshell. Considering how much money has been made off of marketing products gluten free, when in most cases these products are already gluten free! It’s all a sales approach, and in this case swings my way too. Gluten has become a bad, bad thing these days. So when I’ve proposed a bag of quinoa that says gluten free it can really draw people in of all types. Not only am I implying it’s better for you, but now people will feel better about themselves, cause they’ve joined the gluten free fad.

Lastly, within the picture I’ve portrayed of the children, they are surrounded by dirt and what looks to be a house falling apart. I’ve implying that Bolivia needs consumers help. It makes one feel sorry for these kids who at the same time look so happy.  It also happens to be a gloomy day in the picture, which helps to really portray the background as poverty stricken and emphasize the conditions in Bolivia as dark and sad.

Consumers are Responsible

Image by google

Post 3

Consumers are Responsible

There has been much controversy in recent years regarding whether or not quinoa is fairly traded between the United States and South America, which includes Peru and Bolivia. Accounting for 92% of the world’s production of quinoa, this has become a hot topic among the moral eaters. The question to be asked is, are consumers hurting people with their desire for quinoa? Reporters and cultivators argue that such a high demand for quinoa is only powering an increasingly bitter feud between Bolivia and Peru. We as the consumers have created an increasing demand for quinoa, influencing shortcuts within production which has led to cutting the small ethical farmers out while creating turmoil between Peruvians and Bolivians and promoting a cheaper non-organic, unfairly traded product.

Consumers demand for quinoa has deteriorated ancient Andean Farmers traditions as well as creating turmoil between Peru and Bolivia, once friendly neighbors. In such recent years Peru only was responsible for such a small percentage of quinoa production, while now their production has sky rocketed in such a short amount of time due to their new found agro ways introduced by the United States years ago. “By the 1970s, the first tractors reached the quinoa-growing region. The introduction of the tractor is the major game-changer for quinoa and for the transformation of the environment,” says Kerssen.” Using tractors for quinoa production has only brought long term negative effects to the land. First off, quinoa production has moved to the flat lands versus the steep hillsides it natural grows on, and secondly the tractors have deteriorated the fertility of the soil overtime. Tractors have to be used now because of the high demand for quinoa; it’s much easier using a tractor versus hand tools and animal plowing. Next pesticides come into play, which limits any use of llamas for fertilization anymore. One of the major problems regarding quinoa production comes environmentally. Quinoa is turning this once “sacred seed from a subsistence crop into a prized commodity which is leading the poorest, most vulnerable farmers to work the soil year-round, degrading the very land they depend on for survival and cultural identity.” Since agro ways have been introduced, they have deteriorated not only the land, but the once sacred ways of the farmers which their existence depended on.

While in an earlier post I had stated the rising demand for quinoa and the rising prices have only helped the rural farmers by increasing their incomes, I found out this has only been partially true. Although incomes have increased and the government has raised minimum wage for the first time ever, what famers are receiving per metric ton of quinoa now has decreased. The decreasing prices farmers are receiving per ton of quinoa are due to unfair trading. The United States has been able to get a much quicker, cheaper product from Peru. The quinoa from Peru is non-organic and a lot of the time is trying to be passed off as organic and smuggled in with Bolivian quinoa. This very matter has fueled much conflict between the two neighbors.

Given this information, it raises the question of whether we should buy quinoa or not. We as Americans have the privilege of going to the grocery store and picking out varieties of food, having no idea where it is coming from or whether or not the farmers growing the food are being fairly treated. It’s difficult to say we should eat quinoa, because there are negative repercussions for the Andean lands, although “a consumer boycott would only hurt the hemisphere’s poorest farmers.” So, saying we shouldn’t eat quinoa is not the answer either. One thing I can say is if you are buying quinoa make sure it is organic and it is coming from Bolivia. Bolivia still produces organic quinoa, versus Peru. If your turn your bag of quinoa around it will say whether or not it is a “product of Bolivia.” We as the consumers are responsible for what turmoil has been created in the Andean regions, and the one thing we have control over is trying to have some knowledge of where the product is coming from, and then making the right decision. Although organic quinoa from Bolivia might be a little more expensive than other quinoa, you will be helping a better cause!

Post 2

Many people have asked the question whether or not quinoas excessive consumption has ignited the feud between Peru and Bolivia, or whether quinoas cultivation has been beneficial for the poverty stricken countries. Even with the constant debate of the product being fairly traded between the United States, Peru, and Bolivia, evidence shows that the grain has been none the less beneficial for the country’s economy even with the turmoil it has created between Peru and Bolivia. So, are producers securing a fortune filled future for Bolivians? I think proponents make their best argument when they say not consuming quinoa is not the answer, because then it puts the Bolivians way of life at risk. Our love of quinoa has only been beneficial for Andean Farmers by supplying a more secure way of life.

Despite myths of our over consumption of quinoa having put the staple food out of reach for the Bolivians, no longer being able to eat the grain, this proves to just be a guilt trip which has producers fighting back. Quinoa cultivators are still able to put aside their own supply of quinoa for the year from each of their harvests. Quinoa has tripled in price since 2006, which also means Bolivians incomes have risen as well. According to Anthropologists who have visited the Andean highlands and spoken with the quinoa farmers, not only are they still eating quinoa, but they are now able to afford fruits and vegetables which they weren’t always able to do. “It is very good news for small, indigenous farmers,” says Pablo Laguna, an anthropologist who has studied quinoas influence on local communities in Bolivia. Quinoa’s popularity, he says, is bringing more income to the southern highlands, traditionally one of the poorest regions in Bolivia.

Since the Bolivians are earning more money for their quinoa production, this means more money has been invested back into their farms and their communities. Although there is such a high global demand for the product and it has been hard for the Andean farmers to keep up, the rising prices have only helped, not hurt. Quinoa is the only source of income for these rural farmers, and their way of life has only improved since the boom of quinoa hit in 2006. “I think the quinoa boom has been good in general for Bolivia and Bolivians,” says Emma banks of the Andean Information Network, an NGO promoting human rights and socioeconomic justice. As Banks points out, they’re eating more than ever. “Over the last five years, quinoa consumption in Bolivia has actually tripled.” Increased consumption has come even though such high increases in prices have. So who is to say that our consumption of quinoa has hurt the Bolivian people? It sounds like there has been a lot of misinformation regarding quinoas cultivation.

Due to increased quinoa cultivation salaries have also risen in Bolivia. Just recently the government had implanted an 8% increase in minimum wage in Bolivia, much having to do with the new wealth brought to the region. For the first time the government has also given loans to Bolivian framers to grown more quinoa. It looks as though quinoa seems to be a main component of wealth in the nation.

Despite the misguidance of quinoa being responsible for land disputes, sources say that there have always been lands disputes between not only Bolivia and Peru, but between the Bolivians. “There are violent conflicts over land, but there have been violent conflicts over land in the Andes for a thousand years,” says Sergio Nuñez de Arco, a quinoa specialist with US importer Andean Naturals. Most of farmable land in Bolivia is owned by few compared to the many that live in the country. The Bolivians that do own the land claim it has been held in their family line for thousands of years and is theirs to keep. You can imagine this might be hard to prove. This is a main reason for so many land disputes, not quinoa. Quinoa has only impacted the rural farmer’s way of life by bringing them increased wealth, security and hope of what is to come in the future with increased cultivation.

Post 1

In recent years there has been much controversy surrounding whether or not quinoa is fairly traded between the United States and South America, which includes Peru and Bolivia. Accounting for 92% of the world’s production of quinoa, this has become a hot topic among people, especially vegans and vegetarians. The question to be asked is, are moral eaters hurting people with their desire for quinoa? I think reporters and cultivators make their best argument when they say such high demand for quinoa is only powering an increasingly bitter feud between Bolivia and Peru.

With today’s quinoa demand, the traditional organic growers who once ruled the market come from Bolivia. Its neighbor Peru who once only accounted for 6% of all quinoa production is speedily overcoming Bolivia with their agro output. This includes the use of heavy pesticides. So far Bolivians have not been able to compete with Peru and it has only put a huge strain on Bolivians with their cultivators consistently losing money. Peru has a much cheaper factory farmed product, which by no means is organic, and is constantly being smuggled into Bolivia and mixed with the organic quinoa that comes out of Bolivia. Since Peru is making a much cheaper product and is being exported at a cheaper price, Bolivia has been pressured to lower their price which has only created an increasing feud between Peruvians and Bolivian’s. “Bolivian authorities took 23 metric tons of Peruvian quinoa seized at a checkpoint near the border, dumped it into a ditch, soaked it with diesel fuel and burned it for TV crews — an extreme measure in a country where nearly half the people are poor and roughly one in five toddlers suffers from malnutrition.”

Compared to Bolivia’s once a year harvest in the highlands, (using llama manure as fertilizer) Peru has managed to harvest twice a year or more with their dependable use of chemicals and insecticides. Keeping in mind this is a place where insecticides have not been used in the past; because of arid-highlands bugs have almost always been non-existent in elevations of 12,000 feet. Although with consistent use of chemicals bugs are beginning to flourish the area and put a strain on Bolivian crops as well. Because of Peru’s high output of the grain, over the last couple years prices have only dropped in Bolivia per metric ton. “The price downturn is irreversible,” said by a Bolivian anthropologist. There is a constant calling for government to intervene and keep Peru from contaminating the quinoa industry, including passing it off for organic Bolivian quinoa.

Once friendly neighbors, Peru and Bolivia have become worsening enemies, each putting each other’s way of life at risk. The reliance on quinoa has been the primary way people flourish in the area and now a firing feud has put the two at war. In conclusion the rising epidemic for quinoa has hurt both cultures. High demand has changed Peruvians way of doing things with their introduction to an agro way of cultivating. Demand has also put an enormous burden on Bolivians with a drop in prices and fear of increasing poverty not being able to compete with a cheaper product coming from Peru.

With recent publish of articles in the United States regarding the feud firing up between the two countries, people have turned to say they will stop eating quinoa or at least cut down on their consumption. That is not the answer though, because now you’re putting so many Bolivians out of business too, being unable to feed and provide for the already poverty stricken young. I think we need to make an effort to be more cognizant of where the quinoa is coming from, and make sure we are eating fairly traded and organic.

All Posts

Post 1

Quinoa: alleviating world hunger

In 2013 it was declared national quinoa year by the Food and Drug Administration of the United Nations, although quinoa remains unfamiliar to many it has become much more apparent in recent years. My topic is Quinoa, and its aspirations in alleviating world hunger. Quinoa is grain crop known largely for its edible seeds. Some areas associated with Quinoa and being able to alleviate world hunger that I intend to explore all relate back to a few incremental questions: what climates quinoa is able to ravish in, whether or not it’s economically feasible to feed the world, and lastly what health benefits this tiny seed is packing. I want to find out if the benefits you get from quinoa are any different from that you would acquire from other “super-foods,” or “super-grains” that the world is already eating. I think this topic is important to anyone who is interested in their health or what they are putting into their bodies.

Quinoa can even go deeper than that because this could relate back to agriculture and helping to alleviate our carbon footprint. The amount of protein and essential amino acids you obtain from consuming quinoa could certainly replace that of which you obtain from meat. With the upcoming fad of sustainable farming and sustainable agriculture it’s no secret that meat is becoming more expensive, yet why wouldn’t it be? The farmers who are growing products sustainably aren’t taking all the shortcuts that the mass producers are. I also know a lot of people think they can’t get protein from anything else like they can from meat, but quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it serves all your essential amino acids you might acquire through a day’s work of eating. Quinoa is also high in folate and zinc, these are two other nutrients found in high amounts in meat that the body relies on.

It’s important to include myself in this topic because not only do I love quinoa, yet it’s such an easily prepared nutrient rich food.  I feel like quinoa relates to so many positive things that people are so unaware of which I want to uncover these attributes to my fellow peers. With recent studies of quinoa and its biodiversity, anti-inflammatory properties, its achievement worldwide, and nutrient rich benefits, quinoa has now been taken a closer look at by many researchers. Some important information that people may not already know about quinoa include its antioxidant phytonutrient concentration which can be higher than that of which you find in berries. Quinoa also has a vast blend of anti-inflammatory properties as well as containing omega 3 fatty acids which are essential to our brain. It happens to be a good source of Vitamin E, and has a low glycemic index which means it’s not going to spike your blood sugar which is also associated with decreasing your risk of many different diseases.

These are just a few of many benefits I wanted to explain which I’m sure people don’t know about. Some of my information was obtained through the George Mateljan Foundation, he is the founder of a non-profit organization which believes in the higher power of food and maintaining good health and longevity. If I were to choose a central issue or problem related to my topic I would want to address it would be the grains biodiversity. Where, and if it can really grow in such a variety of climates as well as it being grown sustainably, and how quinoa can impact the hungry. I have many of questions regarding this topic only a few of which I stated previously, but I only hope to come up with many more questions.

 

Post 2

Climates quinoa can ravish

Although quinoa can adequately grow in much broader ranges of climates to this day it is generally still produced in South America. In the Inca language quinoa means the “mother grain”, and has remained a staple food for the Incas for most of their existence. In addition quinoa has been consumed for over 5,000 years by the people who flourish the lands of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. A question from my previous post I wanted to answer was what climates can quinoa ravish; this meaning what climates is suitable for quinoa to sustain proper growth?  In researching this topic I found out  many things go hand in hand with the climate in which quinoa can grow in which included soil, elevation, hours of sunlight, radiation, and water deficits.

Quinoa flourishes best in a region with short day lengths and cool temperatures of 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Given these circumstances the plant will flower much earlier than in a region with harsher temperatures. That being said it can withstand an immaculate range of temperatures which include anywhere from 18-100 degrees Fahrenheit, and can also endure a light frost. Research has said once the grain has reached “the soft-dough stage,” when the inside of a broken kernel will exhibit a soft dough texture, the plant is not affected by temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Quinoa also contains a highly complex root system which deepens from a tap root to form an exceedingly branched system which makes the plant pretty much drought resistant. “Its efficiency in water comes from a physiological mechanism which enables it to avoid moisture deficits and tolerate and resist a lack of soil moisture”.

Quinoa is a self-pollinating plant and only takes three to four months to harvest. The plant also blooms beautiful deep red and purple flowers as well as edible leaves. Quinoa prefers neutral soils, but is usually grown in soils with high acidity (up to a PH of 4.5) and alkaline (up to a PH of 9). These are the most common soils found in South America and are due to heavy rainfall, fertilizers, and areas with a lot of ground up rock like limestone. Even though in South America the plants are grown very close to sea level quinoa can grow at elevations anywhere from sea level to 4,000 meters, which is about 13,000 feet. Just to give you an idea of how high that is, Colorado’s most famous summits usually range from 13,000-14,000 feet.

Lastly, Quinoas amazing ability to withstand such a broad range of climates all comes back to a phenomenon in which the plant being classified as a C3 plant. What is a C3 plant? In addition to extracting nutrients from its roots a plant takes on sunlight and its leaves harvest that sunlight. There are two types of leaves and both absorb and process carbon dioxide very differently. This gets a little technical, but given a single carbon, the leaves of a quinoa plant can take that carbon and manufacture six carbons. “In-between the one-carbon stage and the six-carbon stage, some plant leaves — in so-called C3 plants — go through a three-carbon intermediate. Other plants — C4 plants — go instead through a four-carbon intermediate. This momentous difference is as significant as between invertebrate and vertebrate animals” (Laszlo). The plants unique ability to synthesize and use carbon dioxide is what makes quinoa so versatile within climates. While C4 plants originated in subtropical areas, C3 plants have taken on a much more extensive climate array.

With this information I’ve gained I think it is safe to say quinoa can certainly be grown in California. That is if it already hasn’t been. I know research has been conducted within Colorado and the growth of quinoa in higher summits in which I wish to explore further into next. From what I have read it looks like quinoa is a pretty tough plant and has a chance of sustaining suitable growth in areas that may not be so suitable to the quinoa plant. In saying that, there is hope that quinoa could grow and feed people in lesser conditions, maybe even in third world countries.

 

Post 3

Quinoa: A complete protein

What are quinoas health benefits more in depth, and how does it compare to other grains? Is there really substantial differences? Some examples of a few other super grains found most commonly are buckwheat, oats, chia, millet, farro, and amaranth. I actually just picked up my KIND bar and five of the six grains I just named were in the ingredients. These grains may sound foreign to someone, but you may be eating them and not even know it! Further I want to talk about what an amino acid is, and in what amounts are found in quinoa compared to other grains. I would also like to discuss key nutrients and factors you get from quinoa, as well as what a complete protein means and how quinoa falls into that category.

Amino acids are organic compounds that make up the protein we eat. There are twenty different amino acids the body needs, and nine of which it can’t make on its own, so we get them through our food. Amino acids play out many important bodily functions including within our muscles, cell structure and even our organs. Our cells, muscle, and tissue are made up substantially of protein, so amino acids are kind of a big deal. On any given day you may eat a “complete protein” by the end of your day through what are called complementary proteins. Each protein we eat contains a variety of different amino acids, maybe it contains two of the nine essential we need or maybe it only contains one amino acid. This being said if you eat a variety of different proteins throughout your day such as cheese, beans, grains, all the different sources of food you can obtain protein through, you may have eaten a complete protein by the end of the day. Now this is specifically important for a vegetarian or a vegan, since animal products are the easiest to find protein through, while meat itself is a complete protein. A complete protein is consuming all the nine essential amino acids your body couldn’t make on its own. So when I say quinoa itself is a complete protein, meaning you are consuming an adequate amount of all nine essential amino acids in one food; this is huge since it’s not something other non-animal product foods can do.

Although some of the grains I mentioned earlier may contain all nine essential amino acids, it can be in trace amounts; therefore it is not considered a complete protein. With the exception of quinoa, most other grains are deficient in one of the most important amino acids our body needs which is lysine. Your cells use lysine to repair protein like structures throughout the entire body. Out of all the grains quinoa is the only one that is considered a complete protein.

Quinoa is also gluten free for people with gluten allergies or even Celiac disease. A person who cannot eat gluten includes wheat, rye, and barley, so quinoa is a healthy substitute. An excellent source of fiber and containing small amounts of omega three fatty acids, quinoa is also considered an anti-inflammatory. Lastly, quinoa contains high amounts of b vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and even vitamin E.

Although other grains can compare to quinoa regarding nutrients and or vitamins you obtain, what really differentiates quinoa from the others is the amino acid intake.  So sure, other grains may be just as healthy to eat, but lack the necessary protein your body needs. If you don’t mind eating multiple sources of protein throughout your day just about any other whole grain is your thing, but if you’d like to get all your protein in one meal, quinoa’s your guy!

Post 4

Quinoa’s Cultivation

Quinoa is most frequently grown in South America in the region of the Andes Mountains where it has been cultivated for about seven thousand years. It remained a staple food for the Inca Empire and to this day remains a staple food of the South American cultures that reside there. I wanted to find out whether or not the cultivation an export of quinoa was economically feasible, meaning will the cost it took to grow the quinoa be greater or less than the revenue it will generate. There has to be a reason as to why quinoa still after so many years quinoa remains grown in South America. Is it cheaper to grow the seed there, or is it because quinoa has remained a part of the Andean culture for so many years? Also, how is the growth of quinoa affecting the indigenous famers?

According to Tom Phillpot, colonial agriculture completely failed in the Andean regions. New technology failed to bring wealth to the Andean families, and there turn out of quinoa remained fairly insignificant. Around 1990 Andean farmers were linked with U.S importers who began to re-establish old-style quinoa production for the U.S marketplaces. According to numerous reports quinoa has tripled in price since 2006, which means the Andean farmers’ incomes have also tripled. “It is “very good news for small, indigenous farmers,” says Pablo Laguna, an anthropologist who has studied quinoa’s influence on local communities in Bolivia.” Although this seems to just be one side of the token, with much surrounding controversy regarding the U.S and South American relations and unfair trading.

Not only are prices high for the U.S, but the prices have also risen for the locals in South America which has had the people eating a bit less quinoa. There is a rising demand for quinoa in developed nations which are not creating anywhere close to equal profits for the South American people. Disparaging trading circumstances remain between the U.S and the quinoa farmers. There are increasing income disparities within the countries which has quinoa prices higher then meat in local markets. Quinoa has now become out of reach for the poorer people. Ultimately quinoa seems to be ripping the already poverty stricken nation apart with increasing demand, inadequate supply, an unfair trading practices.

Despite all the negative controversy surrounding the production of quinoa and the new flourish of wealth to the indigenous farmers, they say quinoa still remains a staple food for the local people. Most farmers are able to put some of the seed aside of each crop to have for the year. The farmers also plead that they have choices for once in their life of what they want to eat, and most importantly can afford vegetables now. There seems to be significant differences between the farmers and the local people regarding their opinions of the cultivation and export of quinoa, and still remains highly controversial. Quinoa has made some of the poorest people in the region much richer, but on the other hand it has also made the poorer much poorer. Saying the production of quinoa is economically feasible for the South American people might seem wrong, since it has only affected some in a positive way. It seems fair trade between the U.S and the Andean farmer’s needs to be re-established.

The Beneficial Impact of Quinoa on Bolivian Communities

Image by Google

Many people have asked the question whether or not quinoas excessive consumption has ignited the feud between Peru and Bolivia, or whether quinoas cultivation has been beneficial for the poverty stricken countries. Even with the constant debate of the product being fairly traded between the United States, Peru, and Bolivia, evidence shows that the grain has been none the less beneficial for the country’s economy even with the turmoil it has created between Peru and Bolivia. So, are producers securing a fortune filled future for Bolivians? I think proponents make their best argument when they say not consuming quinoa is not the answer, because then it puts the Bolivians way of life at risk. Our love of quinoa has only been beneficial for Andean Farmers by supplying a more secure way of life.

Despite myths of our over consumption of quinoa having put the staple food out of reach for the Bolivians, no longer being able to eat the grain, this proves to just be a guilt trip which has producers fighting back. Quinoa cultivators are still able to put aside their own supply of quinoa for the year from each of their harvests. Quinoa has tripled in price since 2006, which also means Bolivians incomes have risen as well. According to Anthropologists who have visited the Andean highlands and spoken with the quinoa farmers, not only are they still eating quinoa, but they are now able to afford fruits and vegetables which they weren’t always able to do. “It is very good news for small, indigenous farmers,” says Pablo Laguna, an anthropologist who has studied quinoas influence on local communities in Bolivia. Quinoa’s popularity, he says, is bringing more income to the southern highlands, traditionally one of the poorest regions in Bolivia.

Since the Bolivians are earning more money for their quinoa production, this means more money has been invested back into their farms and their communities. Although there is such a high global demand for the product and it has been hard for the Andean farmers to keep up, the rising prices have only helped, not hurt. Quinoa is the only source of income for these rural farmers, and their way of life has only improved since the boom of quinoa hit in 2006. “I think the quinoa boom has been good in general for Bolivia and Bolivians,” says Emma Banks of the Andean Information Network, an NGO promoting human rights and socioeconomic justice. As Banks points out, they’re eating more than ever. “Over the last five years, quinoa consumption in Bolivia has actually tripled.” Increased consumption has come even though such high increases in prices have. So who is to say that our consumption of quinoa has hurt the Bolivian people? It sounds like there has been a lot of misinformation regarding quinoas cultivation.

Due to increased quinoa cultivation salaries have also risen in Bolivia. Just recently the government had implanted an 8% increase in minimum wage in Bolivia, much having to do with the new wealth brought to the region. For the first time the government has also given loans to Bolivian framers to grown more quinoa. It looks as though quinoa seems to be a main component of wealth in the nation.

Despite the misguidance of quinoa being responsible for land disputes, sources say that there have always been lands disputes between not only Bolivia and Peru, but between the Bolivians. “There are violent conflicts over land, but there have been violent conflicts over land in the Andes for a thousand years.” Most of farmable land in Bolivia is owned by few compared to the many that live in the country. The Bolivians that do own the land claim it has been held in their family line for thousands of years and is theirs to keep. You can imagine this might be hard to prove. This is a main reason for so many land disputes, not quinoa. Quinoa has only impacted the rural farmer’s way of life by bringing them increased wealth, security and hope of what is to come in the future with increased cultivation.

The war between Peru and Bolivia

Image by Google

In recent years there has been much controversy surrounding whether or not quinoa is fairly traded between the United States and South America, which includes Peru and Bolivia. Accounting for 92% of the world’s production of quinoa, this has become a hot topic among people, especially vegans and vegetarians. The question to be asked is, are moral eaters hurting people with their desire for quinoa? I think reporters and cultivators make their best argument when they say such high demand for quinoa is only powering an increasingly bitter feud between Bolivia and Peru.

With today’s quinoa demand, the traditional organic growers who once ruled the market come from Bolivia. Its neighbor Peru who once only accounted for 6% of all quinoa production is speedily overcoming Bolivia with their agro output. This includes the use of heavy pesticides. So far Bolivians have not been able to compete with Peru and it has only put a huge strain on Bolivians with their cultivators consistently losing money. Peru has a much cheaper factory farmed product, which by no means is organic, and is constantly being smuggled into Bolivia and mixed with the organic quinoa that comes out of Bolivia. Since Peru is making a much cheaper product and is being exported at a cheaper price, Bolivia has been pressured to lower their price which has only created an increasing feud between Peruvians and Bolivian’s. “Bolivian authorities took 23 metric tons of Peruvian quinoa seized at a checkpoint near the border, dumped it into a ditch, soaked it with diesel fuel and burned it for TV crews — an extreme measure in a country where nearly half the people are poor and roughly one in five toddlers suffers from malnutrition.”

Compared to Bolivia’s once a year harvest in the highlands, (using llama manure as fertilizer) Peru has managed to harvest twice a year or more with their dependable use of chemicals and insecticides. Keeping in mind this is a place where insecticides have not been used in the past; because of arid-highlands bugs have almost always been non-existent in elevations of 12,000 feet. Although with consistent use of chemicals bugs are beginning to flourish the area and put a strain on Bolivian crops as well. Because of Peru’s high output of the grain, over the last couple years prices have only dropped in Bolivia per metric ton. “The price downturn is irreversible,” said by a Bolivian anthropologist. There is a constant calling for government to intervene and keep Peru from contaminating the quinoa industry, including passing it off for organic Bolivian quinoa.

Once friendly neighbors, Peru and Bolivia have become worsening enemies, each putting each other’s way of life at risk. The reliance on quinoa has been the primary way people flourish in the area and now a firing feud has put the two at war. In conclusion the rising epidemic for quinoa has hurt both cultures. High demand has changed Peruvians way of doing things with their introduction to an agro way of cultivating. Demand has also put an enormous burden on Bolivians with a drop in prices and fear of increasing poverty not being able to compete with a cheaper product coming from Peru.

With recent publish of articles in the United States regarding the feud firing up between the two countries, people have turned to say they will stop eating quinoa or at least cut down on their consumption. That is not the answer though, because now you’re putting so many Bolivians out of business too, being unable to feed and provide for the already poverty stricken young. I think we need to make an effort to be more cognizant of where the quinoa is coming from, and make sure we are eating fairly traded and organic.

Quinoa’s Cultivation

Quinoa is most frequently grown in South America in the region of the Andes Mountains where it has been cultivated for about seven thousand years. It remained a staple food for the Inca Empire and to this day remains a staple food of the South American cultures that reside there. I wanted to find out whether or not the cultivation an export of quinoa was economically feasible, meaning will the cost it took to grow the quinoa be greater or less than the revenue it will generate. There has to be a reason as to why quinoa still after so many years quinoa remains grown in South America. Is it cheaper to grow the seed there, or is it because quinoa has remained a part of the Andean culture for so many years? Also, how is the growth of quinoa affecting the indigenous famers?

According to Tom Phillpot, colonial agriculture completely failed in the Andean regions. New technology failed to bring wealth to the Andean families, and there turn out of quinoa remained fairly insignificant. Around 1990 Andean farmers were linked with U.S importers who began to re-establish old-style quinoa production for the U.S marketplaces. According to numerous reports quinoa has tripled in price since 2006, which means the Andean farmers’ incomes have also tripled. “It is “very good news for small, indigenous farmers,” says Pablo Laguna, an anthropologist who has studied quinoa’s influence on local communities in Bolivia.” Although this seems to just be one side of the token, with much surrounding controversy regarding the U.S and South American relations and unfair trading.

Not only are prices high for the U.S, but the prices have also risen for the locals in South America which has had the people eating a bit less quinoa. There is a rising demand for quinoa in developed nations which are not creating anywhere close to equal profits for the South American people. Disparaging trading circumstances remain between the U.S and the quinoa farmers. There are increasing income disparities within the countries which has quinoa prices higher then meat in local markets. Quinoa has now become out of reach for the poorer people. Ultimately quinoa seems to be ripping the already poverty stricken nation apart with increasing demand, inadequate supply, an unfair trading practices.

Despite all the negative controversy surrounding the production of quinoa and the new flourish of wealth to the indigenous farmers, they say quinoa still remains a staple food for the local people. Most farmers are able to put some of the seed aside of each crop to have for the year. The farmers also plead that they have choices for once in their life of what they want to eat, and most importantly can afford vegetables now. There seems to be significant differences between the farmers and the local people regarding their opinions of the cultivation and export of quinoa, and still remains highly controversial. Quinoa has made some of the poorest people in the region much richer, but on the other hand it has also made the poorer much poorer. Saying the production of quinoa is economically feasible for the South American people might seem wrong, since it has only affected some in a positive way. It seems fair trade between the U.S and the Andean farmer’s needs to be re-established.

Quinoa, a complete protein

What are quinoas health benefits more in depth, and how does it compare to other grains? Is there really substantial differences? Some examples of a few other super grains found most commonly are buckwheat, oats, chia, millet, farro, and amaranth. I actually just picked up my KIND bar and five of the six grains I just named were in the ingredients. These grains may sound foreign to someone, but you may be eating them and not even know it! Further I want to talk about what an amino acid is, and in what amounts are found in quinoa compared to other grains. I would also like to discuss key nutrients and factors you get from quinoa, as well as what a complete protein means and how quinoa falls into that category.

Amino acids are organic compounds that make up the protein we eat. There are twenty different amino acids the body needs, and nine of which it can’t make on its own, so we get them through our food. Amino acids play out many important bodily functions including within our muscles, cell structure and even our organs. Our cells, muscle, and tissue are made up substantially of protein, so amino acids are kind of a big deal. On any given day you may eat a “complete protein” by the end of your day through what are called complementary proteins. Each protein we eat contains a variety of different amino acids, maybe it contains two of the nine essential we need or maybe it only contains one amino acid. This being said if you eat a variety of different proteins throughout your day such as cheese, beans, grains, all the different sources of food you can obtain protein through, you may have eaten a complete protein by the end of the day. Now this is specifically important for a vegetarian or a vegan, since animal products are the easiest to find protein through, while meat itself is a complete protein. A complete protein is consuming all the nine essential amino acids your body couldn’t make on its own. So when I say quinoa itself is a complete protein, meaning you are consuming an adequate amount of all nine essential amino acids in one food; this is huge since it’s not something other non-animal product foods can do.

Although some of the grains I mentioned earlier may contain all nine essential amino acids, it can be in trace amounts; therefore it is not considered a complete protein. With the exception of quinoa, most other grains are deficient in one of the most important amino acids our body needs which is lysine. Your cells use lysine to repair protein like structures throughout the entire body. Out of all the grains quinoa is the only one that is considered a complete protein.

Quinoa is also gluten free for people with gluten allergies or even Celiac disease. A person who cannot eat gluten includes wheat, rye, and barley, so quinoa is a healthy substitute. An excellent source of fiber and containing small amounts of omega three fatty acids, quinoa is also considered an anti-inflammatory. Lastly, quinoa contains high amounts of b vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and even vitamin E.

Although other grains can compare to quinoa regarding nutrients and or vitamins you obtain, what really differentiates quinoa from the others is the amino acid intake.  So sure, other grains may be just as healthy to eat, but lack the necessary protein your body needs. If you don’t mind eating multiple sources of protein throughout your day just about any other whole grain is your thing, but if you’d like to get all your protein in one meal, quinoa’s your guy!