Last week I got all worked up about that quinoa article. It really upset me to think that my eating habits were in some small way causing problems for the farmers who grow my food. Now an article on Slate.com tells me not to worry: It’s OK to Eat Quinoa. Writer Ari LeVaux describes why the problem isn’t as simple as the article in the Guardian made it out to be, and why higher prices are actually a good thing for most quinoa growers.
Being incredibly busy as I am, the temptation for me is to heave a sigh of relief and file this issue away under “resolved”. After all, there are plenty of sources that tell you why a particular food is good for you and also a plethora of sources warning you never to eat that food. Meat, edamame, wheat, and dairy products are all examples of foods that have fervent defenders and equally fervent opponents. If you listened to everybody who told you not to eat a certain food, you’d never eat anything. So after reading the Guardian article, I didn’t have any plans to eliminate quinoa from my diet, and I still don’t. But this Slate article has reminded me that there are not just two sides to any story but many, and that global issues are rarely simple enough to be discussed in black and white, yes and no terms. My takeaway, I think, is to buy fair trade, and to remember that the food I eat – not just quinoa but all the food – was harvested or squeezed or gathered or or processed by someone’s hands somewhere, and it probably passed through a lot of other pairs of hands to get to me. It’d be a good idea to keep a sense of that, to keep things in perspective, and to remember to teach my daughter that food doesn’t just appear on shelves by magic.