A few years ago there were articles in the news that the rising popularity of quinoa was driving up prices and making it inaccessible for people in Peru and Bolivia where it had long been a traditional food. Joanna Blythman wrote in The Guardian:

The appetite of countries such as ours for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it. Imported junk food is cheaper. In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken.

But Slate countered by saying that not buying quinoa could be even more harmful.

But the idea that worldwide demand for quinoa is causing undue harm where it's produced is an oversimplification at best. At worst, discouraging demand for quinoa could end up hurting producers rather than helping them.

Of course the quinoa farmers probably benefited from the rising price of quinoa, but what about people who weren't farming and didn't reap any of the benefits from rising demand for quinoa?

1 Answer 1


Here's a more recent article from Smithsonian that agrees with the Slate one. From a working paper written by the Towson University Department of Economics:

"Using a database of Peruvian household information that includes crop and consumption information, the economists were able to look at the relationship between rising quinoa prices and what Peruvian families ate and grew. They compared three groups: people who don’t grow or eat it, people who eat it but don’t grow it, and people who do both.

They found that as the purchase price of quinoa rose, so did household welfare in all three groups. The welfare of those who produced and consumed quinoa rose more quickly than the other two groups, but even families who didn’t produce quinoa saw an effect."

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