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Miracle Food Blues: Bolivia Trades Health for Cash

The nutritional virtues of quinoa have been known since the Inca had an empire, but now that it’s sent around the world to satisfy the bourgeois appetites of the Whole Foods set, some Bolivians have become malnourished although slightly better off economically.

New York Times:

Now demand for quinoa (pronounced KEE-no-ah) is soaring in rich countries, as American and European consumers discover the “lost crop” of the Incas. The surge has helped raise farmers’ incomes here in one of the hemisphere’s poorest countries. But there has been a notable trade-off: Fewer Bolivians can now afford it, hastening their embrace of cheaper, processed foods and raising fears of malnutrition in a country that has long struggled with it.

The shift offers a glimpse into the consequences of rising global food prices and changing eating habits in both prosperous and developing nations. While quinoa prices have almost tripled over the past five years, Bolivia’s consumption of the staple fell 34 percent over the same period, according to the country’s agricultural ministry.

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