One of the most popular recent food trends for vegans, health-nuts and seasoned chefs alike is quinoa, the tiny seed found inside the cone-shaped flower of the quinoa plant. When simmered in boiling water, the seeds sprout tiny tails, and take on the consistency of couscous. More than just a simple grain dish, quinoa is a protein powerhouse and one of the main foods that sustains farmers living in Bolivia. Its popularity in the U.S. has also had a huge affect on Bolivian farmers, who grow the seed in the country's high-altitude climate.
Quinoa farming in Bolivia was the subject of one of NPR's world news stories last week, and one that brings to light the affects of our food choices on the rest of the world. The increased sale of quinoa abroad has opened opportunities for Bolivian farmers to send their children to college, but has also increased the price of the seed in Bolivia itself.
Despite the increased demand, the farmers' insist on respecting the environment where quinoa is grown, and are not carelessly exploiting the land and opportunity.