Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa?
A Bolivian woman harvesting quinoa negro. 'Well-intentioned health and ethics-led consumers here [are] unwittingly driving poverty there.' Photograph: George Steinmetz/Corbis Not long ago, quinoa was just an obscure Peruvian grain you could only buy in wholefood shops. Adventurous eaters liked its slightly bitter taste and the little white curls that formed around the grains. Sales took off. But there is an unpalatable truth to face for those of us with a bag of quinoa in the larder. In fact, the quinoa trade is yet another troubling example of a damaging north-south exchange, with well-intentioned health and ethics-led consumers here unwittingly driving poverty there. Soya, a foodstuff beloved of the vegan lobby as an alternative to dairy products, is another problematic import, one that drives environmental destruction [see footnote]. Three years ago, the pioneering Fife Diet, Europe's biggest local food-eating project, sowed an experimental crop of quinoa.
Related: Newest Web Explorations
• Social Impact Protocols