Practice Fair Trade in Importing Quinoa

quinoa

Target: Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack

Goal: Enforce fair trade policies for imported quinoa

Quinoa has become significantly more popular in recent years as a health food and meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans in the developed world. This increase in demand for quinoa has driven up prices for this product in Latin American countries, and people there who traditionally relied on quinoa as a cultural staple can no longer afford to eat it as a result. Quinoa farmers reportedly toil in sub-standard conditions and cannot afford to feed their children. The quinoa trade is another example of a damaging north-south exchange, with consumers in the developed world unknowingly driving poverty abroad. The U.S. Department of Agriculture needs to support fair trade policies for importing quinoa in an effort to protect rural populations’ livelihoods.

Not long ago, quinoa was just an obscure Peruvian grain that western consumers struggled to pronounce. Dieticians began to hail the South American seed as a miracle health food, since quinoa is not only very low in fat but also has an unusually high protein content for a grain. Sales took off and, consequently, prices for quinoa have tripled since 2006. The appetite of western countries for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it. Imported junk food is cheaper. In rural communities, the pressure is on to turn land that once produced a portfolio of diverse crops into quinoa monoculture.

Like other products produced abroad that are in high demand, such as coffee, the United States government and consumers have an obligation to ensure the workers producing these commodities are not exploited. For quinoa, this is particularly urgent, as poorer people in Peru and Bolivia have historically relied on this grain as a nourishing staple food that has cultural significance.

Sign this petition and call on the USDA to enforce fair trade practices when important quinoa.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

Quinoa has become significantly more popular in recent years in the United States as a health food and as a result prices have shot up for this product, tripling since 2006. The appetite of western countries for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food of cultural significance, can no longer afford to eat it. Imported junk food is cheaper. In rural communities, the pressure is on to turn land that once produced a portfolio of diverse crops into quinoa monoculture.

Like other highly demanded products produced abroad, the United States government and consumers have an obligation to ensure the workers producing these commodities are not exploited. For quinoa this is particularly urgent, as poorer people in Peru and Bolivia have historically relied on this grain as a staple in their diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture needs to support fair trade policies for importing quinoa in an effort to protect rural populations’ livelihoods.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: NusHub via wikimedia commons

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317 Signatures

  • James Thrailkill
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