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I've been a huge fan of quinoa from the start. From a vegetarian perspective, it's the perfect plant-based food. Quinoa is a complete protein and can substitute for less sustainable proteins. Quinoa is high in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc.

Comment: Just a word of caution on the vegetarian perspective in general:

Burying The Vegetarian Hypothesis

NASA scientists first brought it to the U.S. when they were in search of a life sustaining protein rich food for space, according to the New York Times. Now popularity of the food has sky rocketed and with it the price at home in Bolivia. Long a staple of the Bolivian diet, its price in one of the world's poorer nations is now out of reach.

Cost of Quinoa at Home Out of Reach

Bolivians, like other third world nations, are replacing healthy indigenous foods with processed junk food because of price and availability. According to the article, Bolivia's consumption of the staple fell 34 percent, according to the country's agricultural ministry.

María Julia Cabrerizo, a nutritionist at the Hospital de Clínicas told the New York Times:

"As it's exported, quinoa is now very expensive. It's not a food of mass consumption, like noodles or rice."

World food prices are truly beginning to drain the already impoverished. I wrote that the price of one food product can also lead to an increase of another food product as is the case with dramatically increasing dairy prices. The price of milk in the U.S. jumped to record highs as a result of the increasing costs of feeding a dairy herd. The corn feed used to feed cattle has almost doubled in price this year. The price of meat is up as well.

Changing Food Preferences Have Huge Implications

Changing food preferences are also an issue. Víctor Hugo Vásquez, vice minister of rural development and agriculture told the New York Times:

"It has to do with food culture, because if you give the kids toasted quinoa flour, they don't want it; they want white bread. If you give them boiled water, sugar and quinoa flour mixed into a drink, they prefer Coca-Cola."

The spread of more and more fast food nations and all the related health problems that accompany a high fat, highly processed, and nutritionally deficient diet are an even bigger quandary in poorer nations. Once heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses begin to creep in, the problem is difficult to solve because healthcare in many third world nations is less than stellar. And once a health emergency seeps in, without ample healthcare, the problem becomes even worse.