It used to be a staple of the Inca Empire in South America and has supported local Andean communities in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador until the 1990's, as described in this interesting article, when the U.S. started to import it. It grew in popularity, driven by health conscious consumers, and is now a global commodity. The UN's Food and Agricultural Organization has named 2013 the 'The International Year of Quinoa'!
The popularity of the ingredient has impacted the local communities per the article. The price has increased which makes it harder for the local people to buy it now and the small farmers who were able to meet the demand are now being squeezed out by bigger farms. It's a common story and to be expected when an agricultural product goes from local to global and big money gets involved.
Most likely we'll see a trend to towards new quinoa products which are grown in a sustainable way
by small farmers (similar to chocolate). If these products appear, they may be the best ones to buy if supporting the local farmers is of interest. Regardless, the quinoa producing world will change as demand for this fabulous ingredient increases. Hopefully everyone in the Andean communities will benefit from the boom.