Maca, native to the Peruvian Andes, is a food staple made into cookies, flan, smoothies, syrups, and liquor. It has a rich history of traditional use as a panacea and is referred to as 'Peruvian ginseng.' Specifically, it is prized for its adaptogenic and nutritive qualities. It was introduced to North America, Europe, and Japan in the late 1990's precipitating a stream of scientific studies.
History And Folklore
Maca has been in continual use for thousands of years and used as a love charm to inspire romantic interests for at least 500 years. The Inca were thought to have started cultivating this root 2,000 years ago as it was considered by them to be not only a highly valuable food source, but also a sacred gift from the gods. The Spanish encountered maca when they noticed that their horses were struggling with the extreme environment. As the story goes, the Inca suggested they try maca. These passionate Latin conquistadors couldn't help but notice the impressive effects on their animals, and so, they just had to try it for themselves. In Peru, the sweet, spicy, root is considered a delicacy. Many Peruvians prefer the taste of the yellow root, considering it sweeter. It is utilized as a typical grain flour and made into cakes, flan, smoothies, beer, and even a porridge called 'mazzamora.' The dried root will last for seven years.
Maca is considered a highly valuable commodity amongst the indigenous people in this area, and in Peru and other neighboring countries, where it has a long traditional use.
The dried roots are exchanged for other food staples such as rice, with communities dwelling at lower elevations. This is often how they reach markets as far away as Lima, Peru.
Herbal Actions: adaptogenic, nutritive, tonic
Uses And Preparations: Root fresh and cooked or dried and powdered in a smoothie. Traditionally, in Peru often blended with quinoa and a variety of other ingredients. Root dried, powdered, and encapsulated. Cooked root vegetable.