March 23, 2011

"The Times is clearly fascinated by talking about how rich countries' voracious (albeit healthy) appetite is hurting Bolivians."

"This skews the reporting. Oh, the Times does mention that we're also enriching Bolivians farmers by buying so much quinoa. But this point just gets a sentence or two; it isn't amplified with statistics or anecdotes or color photographs. The observation that rich countries are helping a poor country by buying its exports doesn't make for a fascinating New York Times article."

64 comments:

vbspurs said...

Ahh, a Jaltcoh link. I missed them these many months.

Hugo Chavez yesterday claimed that there are no people on Mars because, just maybe, capitalism had come to the red planet and killed everybody. No, really, a sitting President of a major OPEC country said that out loud.

It's very small wonder then, that the New York Times views the world through the lens of Evo Morales, who said that the world's growing appetite for quinoa, leads Bolivians less able to afford the stuff.

Anything with which to batter rich, white Westerners over the head.

Henry said...

This happened long ago when European peasants got tired of whole rye bread. Rich people were to blame then, too.

vbspurs said...

Rich people were to blame then, too.

White sugar is not sugar in its natural state, as everyone knows. But due to the fact that blancehd sugar became the rage amongst the rich in England in the 1700s, the poor felt they had to have white sugar, too. So not only were they becoming poorer due to demon drink in the form of gin, but also due to keeping up with the Lords and Ladies.

Karl Marx mentioned this in one of his many tomes in Das Kapital. Can you beat that?

traditionalguy said...

OK, the quinoa is priced out of the food chain, as is corn by the ethanol sham and huge subsidy method. Obama is stopping coal and oil production by stopping their permits and pretending that CO2 is an air pollution. What else can Obama think of to destroy the people of the world? That would be a fascinating NYT article.

cubanbob said...

I'm so happy rich countries are buying the crop from the Bolivians. It puts money in their pockets which enables Bolivian retailer's to buy my exports which contribute to my income from which I pay my taxes (and employ people here)which helps float the big government the liberal readers of the Times love so much. Yay!

Coketown said...

Most quinoa imported into this country is used in dog food and not consumed by humans. Ethanol subsidies have driven corn prices sky-high, so dog food manufacturers are increasingly switching to other vegetable protein bases (sweet potato, barley, etc.). Quinoa is an excellent substitute because it's high protein, gluten-free, and cheap.

Similarly, look at asparagus farmers in Peru. Do you know how much asparagus Peruvians eat? None. Do you know how much they grow and export? A LOT. If the Times wants a model to help understand how trade restrictions hurt poor farmers, imagine if some type of wall was constructed between the producers and the buyers that restricted access to the product...and how much...worse off the producers would be...while the buyers just get their product somewhere else. Okay, bad example.

The Drill SGT said...

Think about how much healthier the Europeans would be without those evil Bolivians exporting those nasty potatoes and tomatoes

The Crack Emcee said...

The Macho Response:

WTF is quinoa?

MadisonMan said...

Doesn't Quinoa grow in the United States? That would surprise me if it did not. Just about anything grows here.

madawaskan said...

Supposedly quinoa is so yesterday-the new thing is barley.

Barley for breakfast.

(It's so old it's new!)

Henry said...

Doesn't Quinoa grow in the United States?

I'm sure it already has its own domestic lobby.

vbspurs said...

(It's so old it's new!)

Wait. Wait. I can't keep up. I'm still on tofu.

Trooper York said...

Hey if Barry wants to help Bolivian argiculture he should go back to buying cocaine.

Trooper York said...

If he ever stopped that is. He does seem to have an addictive personality.

(See cigarettes and communism, he can't seem to give up either)

madawaskan said...

I'm still on tofu.

I think Crack is still on quiche.

t-man said...

Memo to Jaltcoh:

The parochial fascinations of the NYT skew the reporting on just about every topic.

kcom said...

"While malnutrition on a national level has fallen over the past few years thanks to aggressive social welfare programs"

I wonder what that means exactly?

Ren said...

If you really want to know about awful practices, check out the way bananas are grown and harvested. The big companies--Dole, Chiquita, etc. treat their workers like absolute dogshit. Of course, I won't stop buying bananas, but I do feel ever so guilty when I do.

Quinoa is awesome, AND good for you. I'll keep buying it.

edutcher said...

Sounds like another of those things like arugula.

It doesn't really exist, but people say it does so they feel exclusive.

PS How do we know Morales isn't spiking it with something?

Maguro said...

Of course, I won't stop buying bananas, but I do feel ever so guilty when I do

Liberalism in a nutshell. Thanks.

Ren said...

Maguro, you're a real prick. Probably explains your complete and total lack of compassion--conservatism in a nutshell.

Chip S. said...

Stories like this are good reminders of the fallacy that there is something called "the economy" in any country. The reality is that there are individual households, each affected in its own way by economic forces.

Bolivian quinoa growers benefit from higher quinoa prices, while Bolivians who consume it but don't grow it are worse off. On balance, Bolivians in the aggregate benefit, but that's only slightly more informative than it would be to aggregate the effect over Chileans as well as Bolivians.

None of this means that we ought to buy less quinoa, of course. Prices fluctuate all the time for all sorts of reasons. It's stupid--and hopeless-- to try to prevent that.

Carol_Herman said...

Why does anybody pick up the NY Times to read? Even for old times sake, the paper has fallen into the gutter.

Fascinating to read their opinions, hell no!

Even the media that ran into Tripoli, Libya. And, got someone really important to call off an airplane raid ... doesn't include Duranty's paper.

Personally, I'd have been happy if CNN, the AP, and Reuter's, had been taught a better lesson! But their work is essential to the democraps.

Michael K said...

"Maguro, you're a real prick. Probably explains your complete and total lack of compassion--conservatism in a nutshell."

I think they call it logic but that's tough to understand when you rely on feelings.

madawaskan said...

Ren

You eeeevil banana destroyer!

Bart said...

I have done a non-trivial amount of agricultural development work in Bolivia. They are far enough south that much of their quinoa is a grey-green strain (unattractive compared to the best Peruvian and Ecuadorian strains) which is why it ends up in dog food.

Bolivia's primary agricultural problem is their inheritance laws, which were altered about two generations ago to require even distribution amongst all heirs.

That has led to a devastating partition of even small farms, to the extent few remain viable. Their owners abandon them and head off to the city for work.

Comrade X said...

Google Chrome's NYTimes extension doesn't seem to have the paywall limits and you get it all for free. Evo Morales approves of this redistribution.

rhhardin said...

The division of labor, that is, exchanging talents, is the source of wealth.

Trade is its largest manifestation.

It creates wealth from the huge difference between what the stuff is worth to the producer and what it's worth to the consumer. The standard of living of the world increases by that huge amount with each transaction.

Refusing to buy, or refusing to sell, correspondingly lowers the standard of living of the world.

If you want to help the poor, remove trade barriers to buying their stuff. Let them specialize in what they can sell to the rich in return for stuff worth much more to them.

Not the Times narrative.

rhhardin said...

Yesterday's answer to an 8th grade social studies test is today's Jeopardy quiz: Bolivia and tin.

madawaskan said...

Speaking of bananas and cocaine this actually turned out to be a sticky wicket with the French military that work with us in the Caribbean:

The European Union confirmed Tuesday that it had clinched a deal with Latin American countries to end a long-running trade war over banana tariffs.

"Meeting at the WTO in Geneva, ambassadors from the EU and Latin American countries today agreed to end a 15-year dispute over EU banana imports," the European Commission said in a statement.

"In the deal, seen as a boost for the Doha Round of world trade talks, the EU will gradually cut its import tariff on bananas from Latin America from 176 euros per tonne to 114 euros (255 to 165 dollars)," the EU's executive arm said.

"In response, the US has agreed to settle its related dispute with the EU.

"The EU has also offered to mobilise up to 200 million euros for the main African and Caribbean banana-exporting countries to help them adjust to stiffer competition from Latin America," it said.

The dispute over banana trade is the longest-running in the WTO, brought about by the EU's import regime introduced in July 1993.

While bananas shipped from Latin American countries are subject to import taxes, those from mostly poor former European colonies in the ACP region enter the bloc tariff-free.

The United States does not export bananas to the European Union but three of the largest producers with plantations in Latin America are US-based multinationals -- Chiquita, Del Monte and Dole.


Actually to be more precise it was with the French Gendarme.

Phil 3:14 said...

zero sum

The persistent economic fallacy that plagues the liberal press. If one wins economically then someone loses. The added touch in this piece is the assumption that if the "rich" are part of the exchange they're ALWAYS the winner. For myself as I read it, I thought the rich paying higher and higher prices for quinoa were the losers/suckers and the Bolivian farmers were the winners. I had forgotten that the poor/downtrodden third world farmers are
ALWAYS THE LOSERS

(And here I thought limiting access of third world farmers to American markets was a bad thing!)

Bruce Hayden said...

WTF is quinoa?

Not sure what Winning The Future for Obama (WTF) has to do with quinoa.

Crack - you need to keep up better. You are playing into their hands by using their campaign slogans.

PETER V. BELLA said...

The Times is clearly fascinated by itself.

Marshal said...

"Hugo Chavez yesterday claimed that there are no people on Mars because, just maybe, capitalism had come to the red planet and killed everybody. No, really, a sitting President of a major OPEC country said that out loud."

Maxine Waters told him that's where Jews come from.

ricpic said...

Bolivia, Columbia and Peru.
Three countries I always confuse.
Filled with woolens and hats
Conical that must scratch.
Their humanity? Wretched refuse.

vbspurs said...

Ren wrote:

I won't stop buying bananas, but I do feel ever so guilty when I do.

Saints alive, I don't even feel guilty when I eat foie gras. Even that blowhard, Jeremy Clarkson, had to apologise on camera during his North Pole episode, for daring to munch on the latest comestible that liberals have exiled.

dbp said...

Quinoa is lovely and fascinating: It is a seed rather than a grain, something about grains coming from grasses and seeds from other classes of plant...

The weird thing is that while we enjoy it a lot, we go for long periods of time without it, not from being all-out, but rather because we forget that we have it.

vbspurs said...

WTF is quinoa?

Not sure what Winning The Future for Obama (WTF) has to do with quinoa.


Hah! From now on, I'm saying out loud, "Winning the Future" instead of WTF, when something bizarre happens. Sure, people will look at me all questioning-like, but my audience is the one or two people in the crowd who get it.

They always are, anyways.

Chip S. said...

vbspurs,

I think Charlie Sheen beat you to it, in pithy fashion.

vbspurs said...

Oh, God, yes, Chip. They'll think I'm alluding to Sheen's 'WINNING!'. I'll stick to Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, shall I?

Chip S. said...

"Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" sounds like a line from The Thin Man.

Chip S. said...

which means it's a good thing.

Methadras said...

Oh, well, maybe the times should be reporting how Erkle is going to help Brazilians with their oil drilling and exploration while letting our domestic productions languish into extinction.

vbspurs said...

OT: Liz Taylor snuffing it wasn't my only shock of the day. Imagine my expression on seeing this pic from iPad's The Daily newspaper.

LOOKS JUST LIKE HIM, don't it?

t-man said...

vbs:

I've thought that if I ever went into the food business, I would start a veal company called "Tiny Cage".

Palladian said...

I don't like quinoa because when you cook it, the germ extending from each seed makes it look like your food is infested with worms. Ick.

kwood said...

"WTF is quinoa!"

There. Fixed. From question to 2012 campaign slogan in the merest of instants.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I've thought that if I ever went into the food business, I would start a veal company called "Tiny Cage".

I collect old cookbooks (1850 to 1970 generally) It is really amazing the ingredients that were considered common then, that are either unavailable or classified as politically incorrect. Some things that were very cheap then and are expensive now.

The way we cook and eat has immeasurably changed and mostly through political persuasion.

Veal- used to be pages and pages of recipies for veal
Lamb- ditto lots of lamb recipies
Calf liver (no comparison to beef liver at all!!)
Lamb's tongues (you haven't lived until you've had Greek style pickled lamb's tongues)
Sweetbreads
Duck and chicken livers
Many interesting cuts of meat that now end up as hamburger because we have been taught that they are icky.
Butter and more butter. Lard and leaf fat. (Try to find that today!)
Lots of cream
Raw eggs

Salmon -was a cheap food in abundance and as canned it was ubiquitous
Tuna- ditto
Canned in OIL both were delicious. Now....canned in water they might as well be cardboard.

Many vegetables that either are not grown anymore or are very hard to get.

Food comes and goes in popularity. Quinoa will go the same way. The farmers in Bolivia need to take a lesson from the Wild Rice farmers in Northern California. Don't over produce. You will flood the market and drive your own crop down in price. Have a back-up crop ready to go ASAP.

Shanna said...

WTF is quinoa?

Trendy rice? Count me as SO tired of hearing about quinoa.

Sigivald said...

Bolivian farmers get money for selling goods to the rich foreigners.

Bolivians stop eating that trendy hippie crap because they discover that other foods are more delicious and are now cheaper.

The Times cries a river.

Why is anyone supposed to care, again?

Sigivald said...

rhhardin: Well, you must forgive the Times for being a little laggardly on new developments in economic theory.

I mean, comparative advantage is only 193 years old (or so) - it hasn't had time to filter in yet.

Issob Morocco said...

Don't blame Kashi

Weapon said...

Higher prices is the signal to the market to produce more quinoa. When more is produced, the price will come down. It's really that simple.

Weapon said...

Also, do you want to help the poor in South America plus the poor in the U.S. plus curb coca production? Simple, end sugar subsidies. The price drops here because Bolivian (and Brazilian) farmers can convert from coca (or whatever) to less risky sugar and voila! Less drugs, happier farmers, more candy. Unbeatable. (Sure, some state-side sugar dynasties will crumble, but, hey, welcome to the real world, baby!)

David said...

Interesting post by Jaltcoh, and interesting expansion of the discussion by Coketown and others.

Corn. Ethanol. Quinona. Dog Food. Asparagus. Bolivian peasants.

Dog Food!

My dog is Cammie.

Eat your asparagus, Cammie.

vbspurs said...

T-Man wrote:

I've thought that if I ever went into the food business, I would start a veal company called "Tiny Cage".

Am I a conservative lacking compassion if I laughed?

The BBC recently had a reality show showing how High Streets (UK's Main Street) used to be, in each era. Old butchers shops used to hang dozens upon dozens of dead animals right outside as customers entered, without protection from the elements, with no thought for salmonella, etc.

Sure, we've all seen grainy, b&w photos or modern-day Asian butcher shops advertising a rainbow of dead, fully feathered carcasses hanging from hooks.

But somehow, seeing it in colour, as our own grandparents might've seen the creatures in WWII, really brought the point home.

Something like this.

There's no doubt about it. We're all a little more sensitive to such sights, today.

Bruce Hayden said...

Not sure what Winning The Future for Obama (WTF) has to do with quinoa.

Hah! From now on, I'm saying out loud, "Winning the Future" instead of WTF, when something bizarre happens
.

I suspect I should have put the little TM by the WTF™.

If the TM symbol worked above, I used the ampersand followed by "trade". Another alternative may be the ampersand followed by "#153" - we shall see what Blogger lets through.

I heard someone do the "Winning The Future" on the air as an explicative, and thought it was quite humorous, just like a certain offspring of mine saying "Britney Spears" to a lot of what I say, only better.

Michael said...

Any thing you do, every breath you take, you are harming the poor somewhere. Quit it.

I personally would like to beat the shit out of the writer.

Oligonicella said...

vbspurs --

Good pic. One year I shot twenty-five of those little suckers on the farm as they grazed my garden and orchard. I will cook the hell out of rabbit. A ring of rear legs, like a crown of ribs stuffed with wild rice and raspberry glazed.

Writ Small said...

If eating quinoa in the US turns out to be a fad, the next Times headline practically writes itself:

"Falling Quinoa Demand in U.S. Devastates Bolivian Farmers"

Synova said...

"Salmon -was a cheap food in abundance and as canned it was ubiquitous
Tuna- ditto
Canned in OIL both were delicious. Now....canned in water they might as well be cardboard.
"

I just add olive oil to the Tuna after I drain the water out.

It works.

Sixty Grit said...

You are what you eat. What, wrong thread?

Dylan Katz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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