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Quinoa – boon or bane for the Andean highlands?

In this video we discuss whether quinoa's popularity, its boom and subsequent decine in price affected the regions where it is grown: Peru and Bolivia

Did quinoa affect the economy and diets in the Andean highlands?

Sometimes superfoods demand drives up their prices considerably, changing their status from traditional food into cash crops.

This was the case of quinoa, that saw a spectacular rise in prices in the span of a few years. Did this phenomenon cause dietary changes in the regions where it was traditionally grown?

Economists investigated this issue – luckily, it seems that fears of lasting socioeconomic changes were unfounded, and that quinoa farmers benefitted from an increased income. Unfortunately, this benefit did not last for long: quinoa production soon increased to catch up with the rise in demand, and prices fell again to their previous levels.

The example of quinoa shows us what could happen when a traditional crop enjoyed only locally attains superfood status, though there are many aspects to consider: on one hand, the increased income for farmers; on the other, the risk of overexploitation of wild resources, diminished biodiversity due to the creation of large farms specialized in the production of the specific crop and, as mentioned before, the possibility that people that traditionally ate that food could no longer afford it.

What is the right balance between global trade of superfoods and the preservation of local traditions and environment? Give us your opinion in the comments!

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