How to Keep Your Quinoa Consumption Ethical

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!

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Karen Ryan
Karen Ryan4 months ago

I'm glad poor farmers are having better lives because rich nations have been buying their quinoa.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R10 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

Marcella T.
Marcella T11 months ago

tyfs. i wish all the best to quinoa farmers and those who consider quinoa a dietary staple.

Marcella T.
Marcella T11 months ago

Quinoa and teff are delicious, rare treats in my diet. Too expensive to make them staples. That will change if the price goes down!

Peter K.
Peter Kabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing, personally I do not like it. But good news for Fair Trade.

Julie Neves
Julie Nevesabout a year ago

Never tried quinoa. It's on my list now!

Antony M.
Antony Mabout a year ago


Fi T.
Past Member about a year ago

Keep an eye on what we choose

Pablo B.
.about a year ago


Debra Shapiro
Debra Shapiro1 years ago

To Susie S. who is counting carbs: you don't need to do that. Your best way of eating is a whole food, plant based, minimally processed, no added oil diet with an ideal ratio of 80/10/10. Yes, 80% complex carbohydrates like fruits, veges, grains, and legumes; 10% fat also from some fruit like avocados, coconut, nuts and seeds; 10%protein from legumes and even grains like quinoa and teff. This is the way to eat that will reverse chronic diseases like type 2 Diabetes, HTN, and our number 1 killer, cardiovascular disease. You will reduce your risk of all cancers, live longer, feel better, and naturally become a normal weight for your height. Counting carbs is not the best way to go. Check out the plant based dietitian Julieanna Hever on FB for more help. You can do this!!