20-02-2013 09:04 AM | Bolivia

Boom in quinoa demand stresses Bolivia highlands

The growing global demand for quinoa by health food enthusiasts isn't just raising prices for the Andean "super grain" and living standards among Bolivian farmers. Quinoa fever is running up against physical limits.

The scramble to grow more is prompting Bolivian farmers to abandon traditional land husbandry practices, endangering the fragile ecosystem of the arid highlands, agronomists say.

Quinoa currently fetches as much as $3,200 a ton, up nearly threefold from five years ago — a surge fed by "foodies" making quinoa a hot health-food product based on its high content of protein and amino acids. It's also gluten free, because though used like a grain, quinoa is actually an edible seed.
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