Date of Thesis



Quinoa is an Andean pseudo-grain that has been rapidly incorporated into the lives and diets of Americans in the last twenty years. The majority of Americans see it as a superfood that has the ability to help the population of the United States with issues of health and nutrition, yet quinoa is expensive and the price is constantly rising. In the United States, quinoa is portrayed as the ultimate health food, accented by its non-U.S. origins. This thesis considers how quinoa has been incorporated into the local diets of residents of Central Pennsylvania, a primarily rural agricultural area with a large working class population and a growing population of educated professionals, due to several universities and a major medical center in the area . Central Pennsylvania is home to numerous natural food stores and locally owned restaurants that pride themselves on natural, local and fresh ingredients. However, one of the major stores in the area is Walmart, which typically attracts customers earning a lower income and yet is also selling unprocessed and organic quinoa. During 2014-2015, I conducted field research and interviews in order to understand how North Americans view quinoa in terms of its symbolic importance as a health food and a marker of social and economic class in light of its recent and rapid incorporation into United States diets. My informants, Bucknell students, professors, and Lewisburg locals, consider quinoa to be a food that mirrors class divisions in the United States. This is displayed through the attainment of beauty and healthy living in relation to class. They perceive it as a food in high demand in more affluent areas, as those with a higher income have the ability to keep up with the health trends and the foods that make healthy living possible. Nevertheless, in Central Pennsylvania where the majority of the population earns a lower income, the trend of quinoa as a class divided food can be seen as well, because the non-rich also eat quinoa even though it is class marked.


Quinoa, Consumption, Health, Fads, Social class

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Clare Sammells

Second Advisor

Edmund Searles