International Journal of Food and Nutritional Science
Nutrition Politics in the Quinoa Boom: Connecting Consumer and Producer Nutrition in the Commercialization of Traditional Foods
Department of Anthropology, Food Studies Institute, Indiana University, USA
Emma McDonell, Department of Anthropology, Food Studies Institute, Indiana University, USA, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
McDonell, E. Nutrition Politics in the Quinoa Boom: Connecting Consumer and Producer Nutrition in the Commercialization of Traditional Foods. (2016) Int J Food Nutr Sci 4(1): 1- 7.
© 2016 McDonell, E. This is an Open access article distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
In the past decade, quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd) has transformed from a local “Indian food,” produced and consumed almost exclusively in the Andean highlands, into a global consumer “super food” lauded for its amino acid, vitamin, and mineral content. While popular press articles have criticized quinoa commercialization for provoking a price surge that left small farmers unable to afford eating this nutritious staple, this paper critically examines evidence supporting this argument and investigates the complex and contradictory nutritional politics of the quinoa boom. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the Peruvian high lands, this paper argues that quinoa consumption simultaneously symbolizes a “traditional” past while heralding an economically prosperous future for farmers and the nation of Peru. It demonstrates that changing relations to quinoa consumption are the result of complex individual and family-level negotiations about ideas of bodily health, tradition, and modernity. The article uses the quinoa boom as a case study to point to broader trends and challenges with commercializing traditional nutritional staples. Given the surging demand for super foods, novel foods with exceptional nutritional profiles that are often linked to traditional peoples, this research is prescient and should inform future efforts seeking to leverage demand for super foods for rural development.