If you follow sustainable food news, chances are you ran across some stories recently about quinoa that made your heart a little bit sad. The gist of the narrative is that because people in wealthy western nations are eating more quinoa, the ancient grain is getting too expensive for the people who traditionally relied on quinoa as a dietary staple.
Related Reading: Superfood: 10 Quinoa Recipes
According to a recent report from NPR’s The Salt, though, this isn’t as cut and dry as those stories make it out to be. In fact, that quinoa you’re picking up at your supermarket’s bulk bins mean higher incomes and a better quality of life for the folks who grow it.
The secret to keeping your quinoa consumption ethical? It’s all about the sourcing.
When you’re shopping for quinoa, look for companies that are Fair Trade certified or that say right on the packaging that they work closely with their farmers to make sure they are paid a living wage. I did a search for “fair trade quinoa,” and the company that came up over and over is the one quoted in the NPR article: Alter Eco. You can find their quinoa on their website and at most Whole Foods stores.
If you can’t get your hands on Fair Trade quinoa, choosing organic also helps farmers by protecting their health, since organic methods mean fewer harmful chemical inputs.
Related Reading: Organic Farming vs. Industrial Agriculture: Which method wins?
Of course, they didn’t just talk to a company that sells quinoa for this story. On top of interviews with quinoa farmers, they quoted Pablo Laguna, an anthropologist in Bolivia who is looking at the quinoa boom’s effect on small farms there. He says that our hunger for quinoa is “very good news for small, indigenous farmers.” In fact, those increased incomes mean that they’re adding more healthy foods to their diets like tomatoes and fresh vegetables.
Did you read any negative articles about quinoa? Have you cut down on the amount you’ve eaten? I’d love to hear how this news might impact your shopping!