Quinoa, the superfood that is impoverishing Peruvian peasants

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Quiona_LambsQuarters1Quinoa has become a sought after superfood for almost everyone desiring a healthier lifestyle and especially vegetarians and vegans. At the same time the western hunger for this “superfood” is impoverishing Peruvian peasants, leaving not enough for their own needs.

Oh, yes, they do get paid by the buyers for the grain that they sell them but they can't eat money and quinoa is their staple and thus there is not enough for their own needs.

If this plant would be growing here in the developed world most gardeners and farmers would pull it out as a weed because it is a goosefoot after all, the same genus and basically the same plant as the native goosefoot, aka Fat Hen or Lamb's Quarters. In other words, we have a cousin of this superfood growing wild in our fields and gardens in our own countries though the common goosefoot is not as productive and prolific with its seeds (grains).

This common goosefoot, a relation to the amaranth, was – please note the word was – a staple also of the diet in the Punjab until the arrival of hybridized wheat – the short-stemmed stuff – and Roundup. However, it was the greens of this plant that the people in the Punjab were using and not so much the seeds. The fact that the plant got killed off by the herbicides needed to enable the wheat to grow well the local population also developed serious problems with malnutrition.

But we have many what could be called superfoods growing in our own gardens, in the countryside and even on some many sites in towns and cities. However, we tend to call them weeds and the gardeners pull them out or hit them with one or the other herbicide, often the dreaded Roundup. We should be cultivating and eating them instead. Also instead of importing superfoods and so-called superfoods from other countries and continents.

The French are well ahead of us in this, and have been for centuries. They don't pull up dandelion, for instance. Instead they eat it. And the same goes for many of those so-called weeds in other countries. Chenopodium album (Lamb's Quarters, aka Fat Hen or White Goosefoot) is – or was before the advent of the new kind of wheat and Roundup – by the people of the Punjab and in other countries and regions other weeds are on the menu too.

The Greeks have a dish (or side dish) called Horta which is nothing more than nettles, dandelion and some other edible wild greens cooked like spinach. Chickweed too is a pot herd and also goes well with egg and cress where it is used as a substitute for the salad cress. Many of those weeds have been shown to be (almost) superfoods and thus we should not waste them by pulling them up and disposing of them. We should use them to nourish us instead.

© 2016