The Robin Hood Story of Quinoa

by Tamara Stenn

It is 2019 and, after centuries of wandering, Robin Hood finds himself high in the Andes Mountains of Pachamama. The Earth Mother’s skirt folds as he seeks new ways in which to distribute resources and build equality. Pachamama is massive and encompassing, holding the world and all its inhabitants, ecosystems, and life in her arms. Robin does not even realize she is there. He merely thinks he is traversing a landscape.

“Oh, I take from ye rich an’ give ta’ ye poor,” he sings to himself as he ambles along.

Robin is in search of a Grain of Gold he had heard about from a condor, a sacred Andean bird of prey. The other day he had helped Condor untangle himself from a ski lift tow rope that had been left at the foot of Chacaltaya, once the site of the world’s highest ski slope but now just a barren, rocky plain — another victim of global warming. Condor got tangled up while seeking his favorite snow cave perch which had melted. Lucky for him this funny guy in green tights and a pointy hat with a long feather showed up just in time. Condor was getting cold and hungry with his long talons hopelessly tangled.

At first Condor thought Robin was a duende, an Andean leprechaun, ready to tease him with tricks and mischief, but Condor was relieved to learn that this was just an earnest, though lost, chap seeking to build some economic equality in the world. He liked Robin, and when both realized neither was a threat to the other, and after some creative rope cutting, they settled down and had a chat over a hot cup of coca leaf tea. It was the perfect thing to take the edge off of the cold, high altitude.

Learning that Robin was into economic equality, Condor mentioned that there were “grains of gold” nearby. Robin was delighted.

“A new opportunity to redistribute riches!” he exclaimed.

Condor spilled a few drops of tea on the rocky ground. He said he was sharing it with “Pachamama,” an earth goddess who lived nearby. Condor then offered to drop off Robin at the salt flats far below, closer to where the grains of gold were. Robin gladly climbed onto Condor’s back and away they soared. After all one good turn deserved another, did it not?

And so Robin continued on his way. “Around the volcano, past the dried seas, to the foot of those red and orange hills,” Condor had directed.

Robin is happy with his good fortune of having met Condor the day before. He thinks about the Grain of Gold. Whatever could it be? A coin? A seed that grew gold? Like a money tree? Wouldn’t that be something to show Maid Marian and the merry men back home? Filling the Sherwood forest with money trees! He would rename it the ‘Share Would’ Forest to make sure everyone would share all they found there. His head was swirling with good thoughts.

""Dr. Tamara Stenn is an economist, social entrepreneur, author, researcher, and Business faculty at Landmark College. She is the founder of KUSIKUY, a handknit alpaca clothing company from Bolivia. Her new book based on three years of Fulbright research on Bolivian quinoa growers comes out in the fall of 2019.

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