TRC #245: Quinoa + Pain Relievers + Misattributed Paternity

maury-you-are-not-the-father-oEpisode 245 of The Reality Check is pretty freakin’ great! Pat leads things off with an interview with Stefan Jeremiah about whether or not it is ok to eat quinoa. Elan then discusses the similarities and differences between the popular over the counter pain relievers. Darren closes things out with a look into what the stats are regarding misattributed paternity.


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Guardian article:  Quinoa Brings Riches To The Andes

How Many Bolivians Are Dying Because Foodies Love Quinoa

Open Letter To NPR

NPR: Quinoa Craze

NPR: Demand For Quinoa A Boon For Bolivian Farmers

Ottawa Citizen: Go Ahead And Eat Quinoa

Slate: Ignore The Media Hand Wringing

Time: Quinoa – The Dark Side of an Andean Super Food

It Andean Information Network:  Bolivian Quinoa Questions

Over The Counter Pain Relievers


Go Ask Alice –  Asperin vs. Ibuprofen

Misattributed Paternity

Journal of Epidemiology Community Health





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4 Responses to TRC #245: Quinoa + Pain Relievers + Misattributed Paternity

  1. Kara says:

    Great episode! Loved the quinoa segment – both the interview and the discussion you had afterwards. It reminds me of the debate had around sweatshops in the developing world. They’re terrible!.. but necessary?

    Being rational is so complicated.

  2. Jose Gil says:

    Quick correction on the pain relievers. NSAIDs inhibit both COX-1 and COX-2. COX-1 isn’t active in response to pain and inflammation, while COX-2 is. So pain relieve along with inflammation is reduced through COX-2. COX-1 drives platelet formation, and its inhibition by NSAIDs leads to the blood thinning. There are some other effects to COX-1, which is why there was a lot of interest in COX-2 specific inhibitors, like Celebrex and Vioxx.

    I worked in a COX-2 lab.

  3. I just finished listening to the quinoa segment and I’m not very impressed with the documentarian’s grievances about supposed lurid news stories. I do give kudos to Pat Roach for his thoroughness and generally level-headed approach to most stories. On this one, though, I believe there’s a lot of ado about very little.

    I haven’t read all the articles posted in the Show Notes — I just reviewed the two major sources that I would expect to have reputable reports: NPR and The Guardian. And what I found was very little of the luridity (a word I just made up) that TRC seems to have found. In fact, even the Guardian, which is called out on the show for having way overblown the quinoa issue, seems to me to be fairly even-handed. The headline reads “Quinoa brings riches to the Andes,” not something like “Quinoa profiteering wreaks nutritional havoc among Andes farmers!” or “Andes farmers can’t afford to eat their own grains!” Likewise NPR’s reasonable headline: “Demand For Quinoa A Boon For Bolivian Farmers.”

    To be fair to TRC, Pat and the other panelists do characterize the quinoa situation as complex. But the documentarian, Stefan (sp?), seems to be tilting at imaginary windmills. True, he has first-hand knowledge of the scene, but other than debunking the idea that farmers can’t afford to eat quinoa anymore — which he does very well — his outrage seems petty, irrelevant and anecdotal.

    The point of the news stories I looked at seems to boil down to this: 1) quinoa has become wildly popular in the US and thus the price has gone up, 2) the price boom has been a great boon to Andean farmers, 3) the price of this boom, however, is that many people who live in cities (that is, not the farmers) can’t as readily afford the quinoa that used to be a staple of the diet and, furthermore, the booming quinoa market has had economic side effects relating to property and land ownership, along with general nutritional habits.

    In conclusion, the quinoa story was a good one to deal with on the show, but I think the documentarian, Stefan, doth protest too much. He is fostering outrage and laboring mightily to battle a gnat.

    If Stefan wants to point out that it’s certainly not true that quinoa farmers can’t afford to eat their own crop and that they have a wonderful old school sense of community…that’s fine and could be accomplished in a 2-minute interview; an elaborate documentary with numerous expensive repeat visits to the quinoa farms is not necessary.

    • Pat says:

      Thanks for the note (and voice mail), Jim. Much appreciated.

      I struggled a bit with putting this segment on the show for many reasons. The situation is far more complex than pretty much any of the sources reporting on it would lead us to believe. I hope we got that point across. Because of the length of particular segments on the show I really tried to focus on specific claims made about the farming communities being priced out of their own grain and eating substandard food, while trying to acknowledge that solid evidence is just simply lacking in many ways with regard the overall situation.

      Those two specific points were where I felt hearing about Stefan’s experiences was of value and claims along those lines are in the articles you mention. The guardian article, for example, suggests that farmers would rather sell the entire crop and mentions “concern” over westernized diets of farmers. The Time article linked in the notes is similar as are others.

      It is true that Stefan is passionate about the subject, as i suspect anyone doing a documentary about such a specific subject would be. That said, I personally found hearing of his experiences fascinating and hopefully we had a somewhat balanced discussion after the interview.

      Cheers and thanks for listening,

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