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Quinoa: Good, Evil, or Just Really Complicated?

Original story at Mother Jones• 9 mentions • 1 year ago

Mother Jones 1 year ago

"Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa?," thunders the headline of a recent Guardian piece. Hard to say, but reality check: It isn't just vegans who enjoy quinoa. Like many occasional meat eaters I know, I've been eating it for years. Quinoa is also big among gluten-intolerant omnivores. So quinoa's truth—unpalatable or not—isn't just for its vegan fans to bear.So what is going on with this long-time staple of the Andes and newly emerged favorite of health-minded US eaters?First, the good. Quinoa is the grain-like seed of a plant in the goosefoot family (other members include spinach, chard, and the wonderful edible weed lambs quarters), and its appeal is immense. Twenty years ago, NASA researchers sung its praises as potential astronaut chow, mainly for its superior nutrient density. No less an authority than the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization hails it as "the only plant food that contains all the essential amino acids, trace elements and vitamins and contains no gluten." The FAO is almost breathlessly enthusiastic about quinoa—it has declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa and even runs a Facebook fan page for it.And quinoa has generally been a success for the people who grow it. Unlike other southern-hemisphere commodities prized in the global north, like coffee and cocoa, quinoa, for the most part, isn't grown on big plantations owned by a powerful elite. A 2003 Rodale article describes its cultural place in the Andean highlands, an area that encompasses parts of Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador:
 
 
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What they're saying:

25 Jan
danielle gould @dhgisme
"Quinoa: Good, Evil, or Just Really Complicated?" - Great points from @tomphilpott http://t.co/8Iz9lXk5
25 Jan
Food+Tech Connect @foodtechconnect
"Quinoa: Good, Evil, or Just Really Complicated?" - Great points from @tomphilpott http://t.co/KY1LLI8L
25 Jan
Eating Locally @EatingLocally
Quinoa: Good, Evil, or Just Really Complicated? http://t.co/sGcRke3N
25 Jan
food_democracy @food_democracy
MT @tomphilpott: Quinoa: good, evil, or just really complicated? http://t.co/ji2oyLsG if you like quinoa, find out the truth here
25 Jan
Just Food @justfood
quinoa-curious? Great article for you in @motherjones: Quinoa: good, evil or just rly complicated? http://t.co/urrVVjzL by @tomphilpott
25 Jan
Andy Bellatti MS, RD @andybellatti
Many thanks to @TomPhilpott for this informed & helpful analysis on the ethics of eating quinoa (a recent hot topic): http://t.co/LqKGNOHb
25 Jan
Josh Viertel @JoshViertel
RT @tomphilpott: Quinoa: good, evil, or just really complicated? http://t.co/Z8fimaVD
25 Jan
Clotilde Dusoulier @clotildenet
RT @tomphilpott: Quinoa: good, evil, or just really complicated? http://t.co/AWLtCHj1
25 Jan
Tom Philpott @tomphilpott
Quinoa: good, evil, or just really complicated? http://t.co/Z8fimaVD