Ethical consumers should be aware poor Bolivians can no longer afford their staple grain, due to western demand raising prices.
Just thought I would share this article about Quinoa with you. As this amazing grain has garnered much popularity in recent years, it has also had consequences on the people, the Bolivians and Peruvians (as indicated by this article), who provide us with their grain thousands of miles away.
“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 grain has 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.”
I know that this seems shocking–and it is, it is shocking–however, this story is an old one. Once demand of a crop grows so high in a far off country, out of the sight and mind of the importers, it becomes far too expensive for the local people to afford. Ironically, imported junk food is cheaper. OUR food. Our food that is indicative of the Western diet and Western illness.
In some strange way I feel responsible. My bag of Organic Royal Pearl Quinoa haunts me every time I open the pantry door. Seriously. It’s beautiful packaging and exotic description in no way reflects how this item made it into my hands–and what it truly cost someone (many someones) to get it into my hands.
It wasn’t just food that I thought of when I read this–it was water. Countries like Saudi Arabia do not have enough water to grow crops on their land. So what do they do? They pay the Pakistanis to grow crops FOR their consumption using THEIR water resources. It just makes me wonder. If the Saudis can continue to pay other countries to grow their crops on other people’s land…what implications does this have for the local people when inevitably their water will become scarce as well?
It’s just something to consider as we consume products from far off lands. The price most certainly does not reflect the actual cost.