John Mahoney's Free-fire Zone
John Mahoney
John Mahoney
is editor of the Log Cabin Chronicles.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 01.21.13
Cobden, Ontario


How doing/eating the "right thing" can come back and bite you in the ass

COBDEN, ONTARIO | We added quinoa -- a cereal-like grain -- to our food staples this past year because white rice is a no-no for a diabetic like me, and I have to limit my intake of potatoes to keep my sugar numbers down.

Quinoa has a mild taste, is high in protein -- 14 to 18 percent; low in fat -- 3.4 grams per cup; relatively low in calories -- 222 calories per cup; and a good source of iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and zinc.

It's delicious cooked with bits of nuts or seeds and has been a basic nourishing food of Andean peasants for centuries.

So, what's not to like?

Word-wide demand in the so-called "First World" has taken off and Quinoa prices have more than tripled in the past six years.

Bad news for the Andean poor -- they cannot afford to buy it at home any longer.

"Imported junk food is cheaper," reports Brit Joanna Blythman in The Guardian. "In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken."

The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again, eh?

Take asparagus. Peru now has a lock on the world market, which generates tons of money for the growers/distributors. But it is a thirsty crop and demand is depleting the water table that the local people depend on.

Or soya, another so-called "miracle crop." This is what Ms. Blythman writes:

Embarrassingly, for those who portray it as a progressive alternative to planet-destroying meat, soya production is now one of the two main causes of deforestation in South America, along with cattle ranching, where vast expanses of forest and grassland have been felled to make way for huge plantations.

Here's another of those "Laws" -- No good deed goes unpunished.