03/21/2011 12:09 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Unintended Consequences Of The Quinoa Craze

When NASA scientists were searching decades ago for an ideal food for long-term human space missions, they came across an Andean plant called quinoa. With an exceptional balance of protein and amino acids, quinoa, they declared, is virtually unrivaled in the plant or animal kingdom for its life-sustaining nutrients.

But while Bolivians have lived off it for centuries, quinoa remained little more than a curiosity outside the Andes for years, found in health food shops and studied by researchers -- until recently.

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