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Quinoa: North (demand) v. South (depletion) + Agro-Looters in Paradise

Rainbow Girl's picture

Another "globalization" (Agro-Looting) nightmare. This one hits very close to home, viz., my frequent bowls of quinoa at home, and my love for asparagus.

Because of the "Miracle Grain of the Andes'" huge success in the Northern Hemisphere, the price has tripled since 2006, and the Andean peasants who grow it cannot afford it anymore -- imported junk food is cheaper (and in Lima quinoa is more expensive than chicken). [Clearly, no part of the price inflation made its way into the farmers' pockets, as Rentier Managers (and their Corporate Personae) must be syphoning off the exploding riches enabled by demand dwarfing supply. Wouldn't there be a way to run this operation in a way that would keep prices low in Peru, and not destroy diverse local agriculture just to serve an international market?]

And with asparagus, Peru apparently has "cornered" world production, with the result that the water supply in the Ica region (already arid) has dried up (asparagi are apparently very thirsty little plants). And worse perhaps to come -- the Rentiers who control the production-to-distribution-chain are rubbing their grubby hands and considering wiping out farm land with diverse drop rotations and putting in an asparagus monoculture.

Awareness and grief = frequent partners.

So, do I stop eating quinoa and asparagus?

No votes yet


Submitted by hipparchia on

Awareness and grief = frequent partners.

i know what you mean. i love both quinoa and asparagus too, though they're both expensive enough that at present i'm not contributing much to the agro-looting.

meanwhile, you can always try growing your own!

gizzardboy's picture
Submitted by gizzardboy on

I think it is a very temporary problem. Since the quinoa plant grows well in a wide range of areas (like the related plant and widespread weed, lambs quarters), the high demand and price will soon have farmers flooding the market. If they can mechanically harvest such things as alphapha seed, expect to see large fields of quinoa in the next few years here in North America.

Same holds true with asparagus. Make it profitable enough for the required hand labor, and the market will be flooded within a few years. Then the price will drop and farmers will be tearing out their asparagus fields. I've seen it happen in SW Michigan.

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

Thanks for posting about the cycle you've observed in SW Michigan. As a city slicker on the East Coast I had absolutely no idea.