I wanted to talk about something that has been in the news this week, and get my opinion out there because I’ve had so many questions about it on twitter, instagram, emails and private messages. I can’t keep typing out long responses to everyone so here we go!
As you know I’ve been instagramming a lot of my healthy meals to share with you, and some of them contain Quinoa. Now, it’s been in the news a lot this week (you can read that here) and lots of you have been telling me on pretty much every meal photo that contains it. I’m glad I have ethically minded followers, but like I said I can’t keep typing the same response so now I can refer people to this post.
I have always purchased Quinoa from Fair Trade companies and from my local independent health food shop and I feel confident continuing to do so, just not in excess obviously. Buying the crop isn’t a problem, the problem is the excessive demands that huge supermarkets and corporations like Wal Mart and Tesco place on the farmers. It’s not Western demand that is the issue, it’s the greed of the corporations lining their shelves with food that won’t be eaten for years. They buy in HUGE quantities to drive the price down and give us cheaper food which makes us happy but causes these kinds of conditions for farmers. The answer is not to stop buying Quinoa out of guilt which would have an even worse impact on these farmers, but to buy responsibly from shops and brands that treat growers with respect and fairness.
I’m really glad this issue has been highlighted, but the reports have been around for almost two years now, it just seems to have gained momentum recently, maybe it was a slow news day and people needed to rehash an old story? My only wish is that instead of Quinoa, the news had highlighted ALL the crops that this happens with. Coffee, Tea, Spices, Pineapples, the list goes on. It happens with more of our food than you would like to think. Low cost comes at a price sometimes, so rather than focusing on the food that made the headlines, it’s worth looking at what’s on all of our plates and where it came from. The problems are much more widespread than Quinoa.
Like I said, I’m so glad that you guys care about this issue, I’d rather have a million instagram comments from you than people who didn’t give a damn about human rights, it’s just very hard to get my feelings across in a comment. I am more than happy to eat Quinoa responsibly from retailers that uphold my ethics and to stay away from the cheaper retailers when I’m buying it. The answer isn’t simply to abandon it all together, it’s to make more educated choices as a consumer. You can read about the work one fair trade brand does here and here and if you haven’t seen them already, I would urge you to watch Food Inc. and Farmageddon. Two films available on Netflix that will really change your perception of the food industry. Well worth a watch.