Where does Maca come From?
Maca is an unique root vegetable in the mustard family. Undoubtedly, it comes from the high Andes mountains of Peru and Boliva, growing best at elevations above 14,000 ft / 4000 m above sea level. Maca is protected internationally as a “heritage” genetic plant of Peru and, although, people have tried to grow it in other regions of the world, the result has always been inferior to the Maca grown in Peru.
How Long Has Maca Been Cultivated?
Archaeologists have found evidence of Maca being stored in caves near Junin, Peru as far back as 10,000 years ago. It is not known if these roots were cultivated or wild-crafteted, but several experts suggest that Maca was domesticated between 3000 and 5000 years ago, as both a crop used for animal (livestock) and human consumption. This would make it an extremely old crop and, in our opinion, a human heritage crop.
What Are The Historical Written References To Maca?
Although the Incas certainly prized Maca and used it regularly in their empire, the first written records of Maca that we have come from Spanish colonizers in the 16th century. Those who left behind the earliest chronicles of their journies in Peru noted that Maca was used for boosting energy and fertility in the high mountains. Later, during the 200 year colonial period (1550-1750) it is reported that roughly nine tons of Maca were demanded from the native population annually. Other literature from the Spanish conquest of America indicates that both indigenous and Spanish soldiers used high dosages of Maca to prepare themselves for battle. Maca was first comprehensively described by Gerhard Walpers in 1843. Scientifically Maca is referred to as lepedium meyenii, Walp. The “walp” refers to Walpers. Later Tehllung (1906) gave the most complete taxonomic description of Maca root.
How Has Maca Been Used?
Traditionally, Maca was eaten in a variety of ways. First, fresh roots, were roasted under the ground, right in the fields where they grew in a process known as a huatia. NMaca roots were also dried to preserve them and eaten later in a porridge called Mazamorra. Today, the most common way of eating Maca inside and outside of Peru is to drink it in smoothies or other beverages. Maca, however is a food and can be made into various delicious recipes.
Maca In the Contemporary World
1964 was the first time that Maca was introduced Maca to a large scale international audience, but it wasn’t widely accepted at that time. In fact during the 1980s Maca cultivation reached record lows. But in the late 1990s Maca powder began to be used by health conscious doctors and people outside of Latin America. From 2000 to 2010 Peru’s export of Maca grew 5 times, making Maca powder one of the country’s top exports.