In praise of quinoaBy: The Economist - March 9, 2017
The globalisation and modernisation of agriculture have contributed to a stunning reduction in hunger. Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of children under five who were malnourished fell from 25% to 14%. People who are still underfed are less severely so: their average shortfall in calories fell from 170 a day to 88 by 2016. And between 1990 and 2012 the proportion of their income that poor people worldwide had to spend on food fell from 79% to 54%. As for those quinoa farmers, don’t worry. A study by Marc Bellemare of the University of Minnesota found that Peruvian households became better-off because of the quinoa boom, even if they didn’t grow the stuff, because newly prosperous quinoa farmers bought more goods and services from their neighbours.
Granted, rising prosperity has allowed an increasing number of people to become unhealthily fat. But the solution to that is not to make them poorer, which is what the backlash against globalisation will do if it succeeds. Rather than sniping snootily about Donald Trump’s taste for well-done steaks slathered with ketchup, liberals should worry about the administration’s plans to erect trade barriers and possibly start a trade war. That would make the world poorer and hungrier.
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