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Ancient Grains and New Markets: The Selling of Quinoa as Story and Substance

Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance

ISBN: 978-1-78714-412-5, eISBN: 978-1-78714-411-8

Publication date: 24 June 2017


This chapter examines the increase in global demand for quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) and considers the impact of such demand on the Peruvian and Bolivian farmers who produce it. Specifically, it analyzes the social media marketing of U.S. based I Heart Keenwah (IHK) and considers the role of “storied food” with respect to corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting in a Web 2.0 context. This chapter reports the results of textual, rhetorical, and cultural analyses of the digital marketing materials IHK deploys, and considers IHK’s use of Web 2.0 tools to mobilize discourses of socially responsible marketing, and implications of industrial quinoa production on Andean biodiversity and indigenous culture. This chapter principally concludes that the social media and digital marketing materials that IHK deploys obfuscate the social, economic, and ecological complexities surrounding the quinoa industries in Peru and Bolivia. This chapter provides evidence of new tendencies in capitalist commodification, and demonstrates how the traditional and indigenous protectors of the quinoa plant species are being denied their agricultural and cultural heritages. Further more, it demonstrates how the language of corporate social responsibility is abused in the service of less sustainable, branded, and extractive imaginaries and corporate profit. Given the significant rise in international quinoa demand, IHK’s explosive economic success, and IHK’s reliance on Andean quinoa, this case study provides unique insights into global food capitalism in the age of social media.



Drew, J., Dickinson Sachs, A., Sueiro, C. and Stepp, J.R. (2017), "Ancient Grains and New Markets: The Selling of Quinoa as Story and Substance", Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance (Developments in Corporate Governance and Responsibility, Vol. 11), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 251-274.



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