New Left Review 85, January-February 2014

by Joshua Berson.

A Critique

A few years ago the New York Times reported from Bolivia that quinoa, once a staple food of the Andean highlands, had become too expensive for local consumers, who were finding themselves priced out by the booming export market. Quinoa farmers may have benefited from growing demand in the us and Europe, but quinoa’s popularity among health-conscious rich-world consumers was helping to push Bolivians towards cheaper, processed foods. Domestic consumption of the pearly grains declined by a third between 2005 and 2010, as the export price tripled. Malnutrition is up in quinoa-growing regions. Other reports described bitter battles over prime plots, with dozens injured when farmers fought with slings and sticks of dynamite over what was once abandoned land.

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