In the kitchen

Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

quinoa- the new t-bone?

Is it just me or does it seem that even the things that are good for you, really and truly good for you, eventually end up being bad in some way?
Take water for example.  Drink plenty of it, more than you even want.  But make sure it isn't polluted.  Or you could just buy spring water and add to the global climate crisis by increasing the demand on fossil fuels to make the plastic and ship it all over creation.
Eat soy.  Soy is good for you.  The Japanese eat lots of soy and they have a very low rate of cancer.  So eat tofu and be the butt of every Thanksgiving meal because you are eating Toferky.  But wait! Don't eat too much tofu because it is highly processed and there is concern about the estrogen-like effects which might actually put women at greater risk for certain types of  breast cancer.  (In actuality, there isn't too much a debate here.  It is not soy itself, or even tofu, that might be nutritionally risky.  It is the very processed from of soy, soy isolate, that people might want to watch out for.  I found a great article that shed some light on the soy debate.)
It seems that anytime we actually have the opportunity for some light back-patting over a healthy, globally responsible choice as a citizen of the Earth, someone comes and rains on the parade.
Take quinoa for example.  Check out how much a 3 pound bag cost at the health food store.

Apparently, the touted superfood status of quinoa has had some damaging effects on the grain's place in the global market and has had some major ramifications for those who grow it.  Ange, always one to keep me informed since I basically live under a rock with no newspaper, news and a thin diet of social media, sent me  this article  about why the Bolivians who grow quinoa can no longer afford to eat it themselves. This one discusses the massive ecological strain of the vegetarian market, including threatening water resources, increasing deforestation and the fact that many of the countries that fulfill the demands of vegetable-based food now themselves subsist on cheaper, nutritionally devoid processed food. 

Sigh and double sigh.

Now, I share these things with great caution for there is no way that vegetarianism is as damaging to earth as the ecological demands of commercial meat production.  The acres and acres of earth devoted to raising cows (both for them to live on and the acres needed to grow the corn to feed them) opposed to vegetables is out of sight.   Cow flatulence (you heard me right) is a major contributor to greenhouse gases.  Seriously.

What these articles really highlight is the fact that wealthy, developed countries such as ours generally say what we want from the world and the world responds.  We have the money to pay for the superfoods grown in rural Bolivia and suddenly there is a market, a demand and a massive price climb. 

I have no idea how to fix such a thing and I don't even really grasp economics well.  But I do know that I just don't feel right creating my own nutritional bubble while other people, those who produce it, suffer. 

The whole thing leaves me wanting to whine to the sky, "Why can't we all just get along?"  and then go eat my quinoa in peace.

In an act of great irony, I am going to now share one of my favorite quinoa recipes with you because it also doesn't feel right to me to post a bumper sticker to my car with the word quinoa with a circle and an X through it.   My friend Heather shared it with me from Eating Well (November/December 2011).

Pear-Quinoa Salad

- 14 oz. vegetable broth (or water)
-1 cup quinoa
- 2 TBSP walnut or canola oil (I used only 1)
-1-2 TBSP fruity vinegar, such as pear, raspberry or pomegranate
-1/4 cup snipped fresh chives (can substitute scallions)
-1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
-1/4 tsp salt
-2 ripe but firm pears, peeled and diced (I prefer bosc)
-1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted

1. Boil the broth in a large saucepan.  Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat to maintain a simmer.  Cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the outer shell of the quinoa has opened, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl and cool.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, vinegar, chives, salt and pepper.  Add the pears to coat.  Add to the cooled quinoa.  Toss to combine.  Top with toasted nuts. May be served chilled or at room temperature.

 Say a prayer for the people of Bolivia and enjoy.

No comments:

Site Meter