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Quinoa: Should I Eat This Grain?

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Quinoa: Should I Eat This Grain?

If I were sent to a desert island with one type of food only to sustain me, I would choose quinoa. Like many people since quinoa began gaining visibility, I became a convert with my first spoonful. I love the satisfying pop of the tiny translucent beads in my mouth. I love the taste, so unique and yet so versatile as to provide the perfect stand-in for pasta, bread, rice, potatoes–you name it. And of course, I love the nutritious goodness of this gluten-free seed–its balance of essential amino-acids equals that of meat, its protein content surpasses any grain’s, to name but a few. Pregnant, I laughed when I realized that quinoa was the only food whose very evocation would nauseate me. Thankfully, I was able to make my peace with it as soon as breastfeeding became my new priority in life. And I gratefully incorporated it back in my diet several times a week.

That was over three months ago. Since then, I haven’t been able to stop pondering over all sorts of issues surrounding this staple food of mine, the bulk of which is imported from the high desert plateau (Altiplano) of Bolivia. Am I just a hypocrite for evangelizing the virtues of buying local while relying heavily on a food that is anything but local? A food whose exports have multiplied tenfold between 2000 and 2009, and whose price tripled over the last decade? A food that has become so expensive, in fact, that the people who’ve been living off it for millennia can barely afford it anymore, and must replace it with cheap commodities like noodles–or so I hear? Should I search for sources closer to home, and, barring local production, should I banish my favorite food from my table?

I decided to do some research. As it turns out, those questions have no straightforward answers.

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Laetitia Mailhes

Laetitia Mailhes is a French-born journalist. After many years as the technology and innovation correspondent of the French "Financial Times" in San Francisco, she decided to focus on what truly matters to her: sustainable food and farming. Find more articles and videos on her blog, The Green Plate Blog.


+ add your own
9:04AM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

Thank you.

9:03AM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

Thank you.

9:02AM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

Thank you.

9:02AM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

Thank you.

9:02AM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

Thank you.

9:02AM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

Thank you.

3:48AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012


7:36PM PDT on Mar 30, 2012

I bought some quinoa but I can't seem to figure out how to cook it in a way that I like it. I'm a picky eater, but I try really hard to incorporate more natural and healthy foods into my diet. So far the only way I like it is with some italian seasoning, rosemary, and olive oil, and I eat it like rice with fish. Any suggestions?

7:25PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

thanks for the interesting article, I just baked a pumpkin bread using Quinoa flour.

7:01PM PST on Dec 30, 2011

Thanks for the researching and the article.

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