Is Quinoa bad for the environment?

Is Quinoa bad for the environment?

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Quinoa... 

It’s hard to believe that there was a time that the majority of us had probably never even heard of this Instagram superfood. Today, quinoa is a #fitspo favourite and can be found pretty much everywhere - it even featured in Gymshark Central's article, 'Superfoods: Myth or Reality'.

Packed full of nutrients such as protein, lysine and iron, quinoa has even been praised by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation as being the only plant-based food that contains all of our essential amino acids. It is also packed full of vitamins and containing no gluten – decent.

However, while it might be tasty (debatable) AND good for you, sadly the rise of quinoa has come with some pretty nasty side effects.

In recent years, activists have been raising awareness of the harmful impact quinoa is having on the environment and the Bolivian and Peruvian natives that farm it.

The Environment 

Due to the huge increase in demand for quinoa, the way in which the land is being farmed is having to be altered. Rather than traditional methods of poly-cultural crops and llama pasture. This is basically lots different crops on the same bit of land alongside llamas (cute, right?), farmers have to mine their soil, which jeopardises soil fertility. (Not so cute.)

The People 

As the demand for quinoa has increased, so have the prices. Kind of like the Freddo scandal but a lot more serious...

So much so, Bolivian and Peruvian farmers cannot afford to buy quinoa themselves and instead are becoming reliant less nutritious staples such as white rice.

This is resulting in quinoa-producing areas being among the most malnourished.

What’s next?

Luckily, governments in the regions of quinoa production are making attempts to do something about the negative impact of the crop. 

For example, programs have been put in place to supply quinoa to those most in need of nutrient dense food, such as pregnant women. 

These programs are helping to ensure that those most in need are not being priced out of the market.

It might, therefore, not have to be a case of boycotting quinoa just yet!

However, just as with all foods, it should certainly not be taken for granted.

Here are a few things you could do to help without having to cut it out of your diet.

  1. Buy Fair Trade Quinoa to help support Bolivian and Peruvian farmers and their families. 
  2. Buy Quinoa that has been farmed elsewhere. Yep, this is actually thing! Rumour has it you can get some from Essex...
  3. Diversify your diet and do not be reliant on superfoods such as quinoa, no matter how hipster they might be. 

What are your thoughts? 

 

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