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Page 1 Introduction At the time of the Spanish conquest, the Incas cultivated almost as many species of plants as the farmers of all Asia or Europe. 1 On mountainsides up to four kilometers high along the spine of a whole continent and in climates varying from tropical to polar, they grew a wealth of roots, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Without money, iron, wheels, or work animals for plowing, the Indians terraced and irrigated and produced abundant food for fifteen million or more people—roughly as many as inhabit the highlands today. Throughout the vast Inca Empire, sprawling from southern Colombia to central Chile—an area as great as that governed by Rome at its zenith 2 —storehouses overflowed with grains and dried tubers. Because of the Inca's productive agriculture and remarkable public organization, it was usual to have 3–7 years' supply of food in storage. But Pizarro and most of the later Spaniards who conquered Peru repressed the Indians, suppressed their traditions, and destroyed much of the intricate agricultural system. They considered the natives to be backward and uncreative. Both Crown and Church prized silver and souls—not plants. Crops that had held honored positions in Indian society for thousands of years were deliberately replaced by European species (notably wheat, barley, carrots, and broad beans) that the conquerors demanded be grown. Forced into obscurity were at least a dozen native root crops, three grains, three legumes, and more than a dozen fruits. Domesticated plants such as oca, maca, tarwi, nuñas, and lucuma have remained in the highlands during the almost 500 years since Pizarro's conquest. Lacking a modern constituency, they have received little scientific respect, research, or commercial advancement. Yet they include some widely adaptable, extremely nutritious, and remarkably tasty foods. This botanical colonialism closed off from the rest of the world a major center of crop diversity. Food plants of Asia, Mexico, and 1 It has been estimated that Andean Indians domesticated as many as 70 separate crop species. Cook, 1925. 2 Britain to Persia.
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Page 2 ~ enlarge ~ The Inca Empire measured more than 4,000 km from end to end. Superimposed on a map of modern South America, it would begin on Colombia's southern frontier, stretch southward along the coast and highlands of Ecuador and Peru, sprawl across highland Bolivia into northwestern Argentina, and reach down into central Chile to just below Santiago. This vast territory was probably the largest ever formed anywhere based on a “Bronze Age” level of technology.
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Page 3 especially of Europe became prominent; those of the Andes were largely lost to the outside world. 3 However, it is not too late to rescue these foods from oblivion. Although most have been hidden from outsiders, they did not become extinct. Today in the high Andes, the ancient influences still persist with rural peasants, who are largely pure-blooded Indian and continue to grow the crops of their forebears. During the centuries, they have maintained the Inca's food crops in the face of neglect, and even scorn, by much of the society around them. In local markets, women in distinctive hats and homespun jackets (many incorporating vivid designs inspired by plant forms and prescribed by the Incas more than 500 years ago) sit behind sacks of glowing grains, baskets of beans of every color, and bowls containing luscious fruits. At their feet are piles of strangely shaped tubers—red, yellow, purple, even candy striped; some as round and bright as billiard balls, others long and thin and wrinkled. These are the “lost crops of the Incas.” That these traditional native crops have a possible role in future food production is indicated by the success of the few that escaped the colonial confines. Among the Inca's wealth of root crops, the domesticated potato, an ancient staple previously unknown outside the Andes, proved a convenient food for slaves in the Spanish silver mines and sailors on the Spanish galleons. Almost inadvertently, it was introduced to Spain, where, over several centuries, it spread out across Europe and was genetically transformed. Eventually, the new form rose to become the fourth largest crop on earth. Other Andean crops that reached the outside world and enjoyed spectacular success were lima beans, peppers, and the tomato. 4 In light of this, it is surprising that more than 30 promising Inca staples remain largely restricted to their native lands and unappreciated elsewhere. Given research, these, too, could become important new contributors to the modern world's food supply. ANDEAN ENVIRONMENT The Andean region became an important center for domestication of crop species because of its striking geographical contrasts. Along its western margin stretches a narrow coastal desert that is all but uninhabitable except where some forty small, fertile river valleys cross 3 Most New World crops that rose to global prominence came from outside the Andes: cassava and sweet potato (Caribbean); corn, beans, most squashes, pineapple, vanilla, and chocolate (Mexico); and peanuts (Brazil), for example. 4 See pages 163, 191, and 195. Although the tomato species had its origins in the Andes, it was domesticated as a food plant elsewhere, and is therefore perhaps not strictly an Andean crop. Potatoes are the only exclusively Andean plant to have gone worldwide.
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Page 4 it. Behind this mostly barren plain towers the world's second-highest mountain range, the Andes, reaching an average of over 3,000 meters elevation. Its glacial heights are also uninhabitable, but intermontane valleys and basins are well suited to human occupation, and these became the home of the Inca rulers. Beyond the mountain valleys, on the eastern face of the Andes, are found subtropical cloud forests gently sloping into the Amazon jungle. The Andean region was quite unlike the other regions where clusters of crops were domesticated. Here were no vast, unending plains of uniformly fertile, well-watered land as in Asia, Europe, or the Middle East. Instead, there was an almost total lack of flat, fertile, well-watered soil. Andean peoples grew their crops on millions of tiny plots scattered over a length of thousands of kilometers and perched one above another up mountainsides rising thousands of meters. This complicated ecological mosaic created countless microclimates—including some of the driest and wettest, coldest and hottest, and lowest and highest found anywhere in the world. Perhaps no other contiguous region has such a broad range of environments as in the ancient Inca Empire. And the region is so fragmented that rainfall, frost, sunlight, and soil type can vary over distances as short as a few meters. For instance, a valley floor may have thick soils, abundant sunshine in the daytime, and severe frost at night, whereas immediately adjacent slopes may be thin soiled, shaded, and frost free. To protect themselves against crop failure, ancient Andean farmers utilized all the microenvironments they could. Conditions causing poor harvests in one could produce bumper crops at another. Farmers deliberately maintained fields at different elevations, and this vertically diversified farming fostered the development of a cornucopia of crop varieties, each with slightly different tolerances to soil type, moisture, temperature, insolation, and other factors. The resulting diversity of crops served as a form of farm insurance, but the differing growth cycles of different elevations also permitted work to be staggered and therefore more area to be cultivated. INCA AGRICULTURE Western South America's dramatic stage—coast, valleys, highlands, and cloud forest—formed the setting for the evolution of Andean civilization, which emerged some 4,500 years ago. On the semiarid
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Page 5 ~ enlarge ~ Opposite: Laraos (Department of Lima), Peru. The highlands of Peru contain more than 600,000 hectares of terraces, most constructed in prehistoric times. These staircase farms, built up steep mountain slopes with stone retaining walls, contributed vast amounts of food to the Incas. They provided tillable land, controlled erosion, and protected crops during freezing nights. Many were irrigated with water carried long distances through stone canals. Today, as in the distant past, the chief crops on these terraces are native tubers, such as potatoes, oca, and ulluco. (A. Cardich)
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Page 6 coast, up the precipitous slopes, across the high plateaus, and down into the subtropical jungles of the eastern face of the Andes, dozens of cultures flourished and faded before the rise of the Incas in about 1400 A.D. The Incas inherited and built upon the products of thousands of years of organized human endeavor. It was they who, through military and diplomatic genius, first united a vast realm running the length of the Andes. Employing an inspired, if rigid, administration, they promulgated a social uniformity from their capital, Cuzco. The entire empire was a single nation, governed by the same laws, privileges, and customs. The union within the Inca Empire was surprising because the various lands it covered were so vastly different: seared desert, saline flats, vertical valley walls, windswept barrens, triple-canopy jungle, glacial sands, floodplains, saline crusts, perpetual snow, and equatorial heat. This diversity is reflected in the Incas' own name for their empire: Tahuantinsuyu—Kingdom of the Four Corners—coast, plateau, mountain, and jungle. Yet the Incas learned to manage the desolation and the variety of these most demanding habitats, and they made these regions bloom. This success was owing to several factors. First, the Incas were master agriculturalists. They borrowed seeds and roots from their conquered neighbors and forcibly spread a wealth of food crops throughout their empire, even into regions where they were previously unknown. To enhance the chances of success, the Incas purposefully transplanted the plants with their farmers, thereby spreading both the species and the knowledge of how to cultivate them. Second, the Incas created a vast infrastructure to support (or perhaps to enforce) the empire's agriculture. For example, they modified and conserved steeply sloping erodible terrain by constructing terraces and irrigation works, and by fostering the use of farming systems that attenuated the extremes of temperature and water. These included, for example, ridged fields and planting in small pits. In some areas, Inca terraces and irrigation systems covered thousands of hectares. Many are still in use. Third, contributing to the infrastructure were roads and footpaths that provided an extensive system for transporting products to all corners of the realm. As a result, massive amounts of food could be moved on the backs of llamas and humans—for example, corn into the highlands, quinoa to the lowlands, and tropical fruits from the eastern jungles to the heights of Cuzco. To implement this superb organization without paper or a written language, an accounting system was developed that used knots tied in strands of yarn (quipu). The
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Page 7 code of the knots has never been solved, so today they cannot be “read,” but it resembles the binary system of computers, and could maintain highly elaborate and complex accounts. Further, the roads and footpaths made possible the exchange of information. Instructions and advice were carried quickly throughout the empire by an organized corps of runners. In this way, Inca sages sent predictions of the weather for the upcoming cropping season to and from all regions. The predictions were based on natural indicators such as the behavior of animals, the flowering of certain plants, and the patterns of the clouds and rainfall. The Incas were familiar, for example, with the phenomenon known as “El Niño” that periodically changes the ocean currents off the coasts of Peru and Ecuador. Also, the Incas developed methods for preserving their harvests for years, when necessary. It is estimated that in the central highlands of Peru alone there were tens of thousands of large, rock-walled silos and warehouses. Such stores were filled each year with dried and salted meat (this was called “charqui,” which is the source of the English word “jerky”). They also contained roots preserved by freeze-drying. When potatoes, for example, had been harvested at the highest altitudes, they were spread out and left overnight in the freezing air. The next day, men, women, and children walked over the partly withered tubers, squeezing out the moisture that had been released by the freezing. The same process was repeated over several nights and days, after which the potatoes were completely dehydrated and could be stored safely ( see page 10). THE INCAS' DESCENDANTS For all its size and splendor, the Inca Empire endured for only a century, and it was brought down by fewer than 200 Spanish adventurers. Today, the region of the empire—the highlands from Colombia through Chile—is one of the world's most depressed areas. The infant mortality rate is one of the highest on the South American continent—more than one-fourth of the children die before their first birthday, a rate more that twice that of Latin America at large and about 50 times that of Sweden. Only 1 in 7 homes has potable water, and only 1 in 40 has indoor plumbing. Add to this the disruption caused by guerrillas, who have launched an armed campaign of terror in the Peruvian highlands, and it is no surprise that massive migration from the countryside to the cities is occurring. Exacerbating the highlands' difficulties are cultural and ethnic divisions. The Indians, who make up about half of the population, live a life apart from the modern sector. Most still speak Quechua, the
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Page 8 RECREATING PREHISTORIC ABUNDANCE About 3,000 years ago, an ingenious form of agriculture was devised on the high plains of the Peruvian Andes. It employed platforms of soil surrounded by ditches filled with water. For centuries this method flourished because it produced bumper crops in the face of floods, droughts, and the killing frosts of those 3,800-m altitudes. Around Lake Titicaca, remnants of over 80,000 hectares of these raised fields (waru waru) can still be found. Many date back at least 2,000 years. Now, in a dramatic resurrection, modern-day Peruvians working with archeologists have reconstructed some of the ancient arms, and the results have been amazing. They have found, for instance, that this method can triple the yield of potatoes. In at least one experiment, potato yields outstripped those from nearby fields that were chemically fertilized. As a result of such observations, local farmers have begun restoring the ancient waru waru on their own. Government-sponsored restoration projects are also under way. The combination of raised beds and canals has proved to have remarkably sophisticated environmental effects. For one thing, it reduces the impacts of extremes of moisture. During droughts, moisture from the ~ enlarge ~
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Page 9 canals slowly ascends to the roots by capillarity, and during floods, the furrows drain away excess runoff. For another, it reduces the impact of temperature extremes. Water in the canals absorbs the sun's heat by day and radiates it back by night, thereby keeping the air warm and helping protect crops against frost. On the raised beds, nighttime temperatures can be several degrees higher than in the surrounding region. For a third, it maintains fertility in the soil. In the canals, silt, sediment, nitrogen-rich algae, and plant and animal remains decay into a nutrient-rich muck. Seasonal accumulation can be dug out of the furrows and added to the raised beds, providing nutrients to the plants. The prehistoric technology has proved so productive and inexpensive that it is seen as a possible alternative for much of the Third World where scarce resources and harsh local conditions have frustrated the advance of modern agriculture. It requires no modern tools or fertilizers; the main expense is for labor to dig canals and build up the platforms with dirt held in by blocks of sod on the sides. ~ enlarge ~
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Page 10 CHUÑO ~ enlarge ~ In addition to possessing ingenious farming systems and outstanding public works, the Incas and their forebears had remarkable ways to preserve food. One technique was to freeze-dry root crops. In the Andean uplands, the nights are so cold and the days are so dry that tubers left out in the open for a few nights and days become freeze-dried. Usually, the people help the process along by covering the tubers at night to keep off dew and by trampling on the tubers during the day to squeeze out the water released by the previous night's freezing.
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Page 11 The resulting product, made mostly from potatoes and known as chuño, was vital to the Incas' ability to carry out their conquests and maintain command of the empire. For instance, it enabled the millions of inhabitants to withstand natural disasters, it supplied passing armies, and it was a long-term insurance against crop failure (a constant threat in this frostprone region). The Incas planned so well that conquistador Hernando de Soto was moved to say: “There was never hunger known in their realm.” The conquistadores quickly recognized chuño's virtues. Indeed, some Spaniards made fortunes shipping chuño by llama train to the barren heights of Potosí (in today's Bolivia), where it was the main food for slaves working in the silver mines. Chuño can be kept for years without refrigeration or special care, and it is still widely made. Even today, it can comprise up to 80 percent of the diet of the highland Indians in times of crop failure. The natural freeze-drying process is also extensively used with some bitter species of potatoes (see page 97). The bitter glycoalkaloids are water soluble and they get squeezed out with the water, eliminating most of the bitterness. The figure shows modern samples of chuño and related products from the market in yacucho, Peru. Clockwise from top:chuño and related products made from oca (kaya), from fresh potatoes (true chuño), from ulluco (llingli), and from boiled potatoes (papa seca). (S. King) lingua franca of the Incas; a few around Lake Titicaca on the Peru-Bolivia border speak Aymara, an even older language. The Indians' rural lives have not changed appreciably for generations. On the other hand, the whites and mestizos (persons of mixed European and Indian ancestry), who make up the other half of the population, speak Spanish and live in a modern urban world that is undergoing rapid change. The classes, therefore, are separate and unequal. And a concomitant notion is that their food plants are separate and unequal as well. It may seem irrational, but crops the world over are stigmatized by the prejudices held against the peoples who use them most. 5 Over the centuries, the Spanish view that native crops are inferior to European crops such as wheat, barley, and broad beans has persisted. Indian foods are still equated with lower status. The conquistadores would undoubtedly be amazed to see potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and limas contributing significantly to modern Spain's cuisine. But they would see that their prejudices against oca, tarwi, quinoa, and dozens of other Inca foods are still largely in place in South America. 5 The English refused to eat potatoes for two centuries, in part because the Irish ate them; northern Europeans ignored tomatoes even longer, in part because Italians ate them; and even today in the United States, collard greens are unacceptable to many people who consider them “poor folks food.”
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Page 12 RECENT INTEREST IN INCA CROPS The urgency for exploring the Indians' native crops has been heightened in recent years as more and more highland Indians have forsaken their indigenous crops. In part, this abandonment has been caused by migration to lowland cities. Also, in the 1960s—when imported wheat became cheap—products such as bread or noodles were widely promoted, and traditional dietary habits were abandoned. Nonetheless, the Indians' agricultural techniques are now regaining the attention of Latin American governments and scientists. For example, an experimental project in Puno, Peru, has rejuvenated raised fields (built up to enhance drainage) built long before the time of the Incas, and found that they produced triple the yield of fertilized potatoes in adjacent fields. The results were so spectacular that local people began restoring raised fields on their own (see pages 8–9). This caught the attention of Peru's president, who hopes to use the knowledge to help highland villagers grow more food and thereby halt migration to the already overcrowded cities. The traditional crops are also gaining more modern respect. Over the past 25 years, Andean researchers of all backgrounds have begun focusing on native food plants. In 1964, the Instituto Interamericano de Ciencias Agrícolas (IICA) published a classic work on food crops of the Andes. 6 In 1968, an international convention on quinoa and kaniwa was held in Puno. 7 In 1976, IICA helped organize a second international convention in Potosí, Bolivia, on these two traditional grain crops. By then, the number of Andean scientists working on indigenous crops had increased markedly, and it was decided that an international congress would be held every few years and would be expanded to cover the full complement of Andean crops. At about this time, also, the International Board of Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR) began providing support for maintaining germplasm collections, and IICA and the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) began providing resources for horticultural research on Andean crops. All this was heartening, although it was still a tiny part of the region's overall agricultural research effort. A handful of dedicated Andean researchers had recognized the value of their agricultural heritage but were receiving little local encouragement. Nonetheless, substantial progress was made. In 1977, for example, the First International Congress on Andean Crops was held in Ayacucho, Peru. In 1979 a 6 León, 1964. 7 This was initiated by researchers concerned about what seemed to be a bleak future for these high-protein grain crops. The researchers included Martín Cárdenas and Humberto Gandarillas of Bolivia and Mario Tapia of Peru.
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Page 13 major collaborative work was published on quinoa and kaniwa. 8 And shortly thereafter, major collections of quinoa were made and modern machinery for harvesting and processing the grain was developed. The early 1980s brought yet more advances. From 1980 to 1985, the Peruvian university system undertook research on Andean crops and mountain agricultural systems. Peru's Programa Nacional de Sistemas Andinos de Producción Agropecuarias funded more than 50 agronomic research projects, involving native crops and researchers from universities in Huancayo, Ayacucho, Cuzco, and Puno. Also, a massive program for the selection and improvement of quinoa was undertaken. 9 Now, in the late 1980s, as a result of all these efforts, Andean crops are increasingly being viewed as national resources in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Peru, for instance, is encouraging farmers to plant kiwicha, a nutritious Andean grain, and has supported programs that use kiwicha, quinoa, and tarwi in childhood nutrition projects. Ecuador has established urban-nutrition education programs, with the goal of reintroducing people to the centuries-old, nutritious crops of the region. Even with all these efforts, there still exists a vast lack of understanding of the crops of the Incas, and many people still retain the prejudice that the plants are second-rate. However, the cultural barriers that once kept the plants suppressed are starting to crumble. Behind them, researchers now can glimpse the promise of a wealth of new crops for the modern Andes and even for the rest of the world. FUTURE OF THE LOST CROPS Today, almost all the native Andean foods are foreign to outsiders, and it is too early to predict the eventual extent of their worldwide acceptance. It is a long, hard, and very uncertain trail to make a little-known plant into an international crop. However, at least some of these crops may soon become common household foods. It can be said with confidence that the basic qualities of these crops are sound—they can, for example, be cultivated to give acceptable yields and they offer good nutrition and interesting tastes. What is less certain is their adaptability to and profitability in new locations. Whether the plants have been tried in new regions in the past is of little consequence. New technologies make it easier to develop and adapt new crops than at any time in history. Modern plant genetics is especially powerful for solanaceous species (plants of the nightshade 8 Tapia et al., 1979. 9 With support from the national government, IICA, IBPGR, and the IDRC.
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Page 14 family), of which the Andes has several, such as potatoes, peppers, pepino, tamarillo, goldenberry, and naranjilla. All of the crops described in this book deserve investigation. For exploitation, most require very basic research, including the following: Collection. To preserve genetic diversity for the future, germplasm collections should be made, especially in isolated areas. Selection. The agronomic traits of the different germplasm should be characterized and important qualities noted. Agronomy. Analysis of cultural practices, plant establishment, and optimum plant density should be undertaken. Research into minimal fertilizer requirements is especially needed. For example, in Peru's Ayacucho region, even small amounts of fertilizer have boosted potato yields from 5 tons to 22 tons per hectare. Genetics. The plants' genetics should be investigated so that efficient plant-breeding strategies for their improvement can be devised. (With most of these crops, varietal improvement is in its infancy.) Handling. Improved harvesting, cleaning, and processing techniques are often needed, especially ones that lower labor requirements or enhance end-product value. Nutrition. Additional nutritional studies would be helpful in some species, especially to clarify the optimum dietary mix with other foods. Pest and Disease Control. Many of the plants now suffer from afflictions of viruses, bacteria, and nematodes, all of which are potentially controllable. FUTURE BEYOND THE ANDES It is in the Andes that the plants have their greatest potential, especially for developing food products for malnourished segments of the population. However, they also promise to become useful new crops for other developing regions of the world such as the tropical highlands of Asia, Central Africa, and Central America. In addition, they have notable promise for some industrialized regions such as the United States, Europe, Japan, and Australasia. In fact, one country outside the Andes already has had considerable experience and success with them—New Zealand. The reason these plants could have this wide ecological adaptation is that although the Inca Empire stretched across the equator, a majority of its peoples actually dwelt more than three kilometers above sea level where bone-cracking cold descends at sunset, and the climate is more temperate than tropical. As a result, these crops in general have many characteristics that have adapted them for cultivation in regions well outside the heat of the tropics. However, additional uncertainties exist when a crop is to be transplanted from one part of
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Page 15 the world to another—for example, daylength (photoperiod) dependence, which could be particularly troublesome. Because the plants are native to latitudes near the equator (where the day and night lengths are equal year-round), some will not reach maturity during the long summer and fall days of the temperate zones. This difficulty has proved surmountable in potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and lima beans, but it still could take growers some time to locate varieties or genes that can allow each of the crops described in this report to be grown as far from the equator as North America, Europe, Japan, and Australasia. Difference in sensitivity to cold is another possible problem. Although the temperature variation in the Andean highlands often runs from a few degrees of frost at night to shirt-sleeve temperatures at midday, the frosts in the Andes are extremely dry, and they rarely form ice on the plants. Therefore, whether frost-tolerance data recorded in the Andes can be extrapolated to other areas is uncertain. Nonetheless, the global promise of these plants is very high. In the last few centuries the tendency has been to focus on fewer and fewer species, but today many ancient fruits, vegetables, and grains are finding new life in world markets. This is heartening, because to keep agriculture healthy and dynamic, farmers everywhere need plenty of options, especially now when markets, climates, national policies, scientific understanding, and technologies are changing at a rapid pace. The necessary next steps toward crop development and exploitation are often interdisciplinary, involving diverse interests such as genetics, processing, marketing, advertising, and technical development from the farm to the exporter. Developing the lost crops of the Incas is the kind of research that scientists should undertake. In the process, they will lift the veil of obscurity and rediscover the promise of these crops the Spanish left behind. The Inca Empire's grains, tubers, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and nuts are an enduring treasure for the Andes and for the rest of the world. Millions of people should quickly be introduced to these neglected foods of a remarkable people. A summary follows of the plants selected by the panel. ROOT CROPS Achira. Achira (Canna edulis, Cannaceae) looks somewhat like a large-leaved lily. Its fleshy roots (actually rhizomes), sometimes as long as an adult's forearm, contain a shining starch whose unusually
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Page 16 large grains are actually big enough to see with the naked eye. This starch is easily digested and is promising for both food and industrial purposes. (Page 27) Ahipa. Ahipa (Pachyrhizus ahipa, Leguminosae) is a legume, but unlike its relatives the pea, bean, soybean, and peanut, it is grown for its swollen, fleshy roots. Inside, these tuberous roots are succulent, white, sweet, pleasantly flavored, and crisp like an apple. They are an attractive addition to green salads and fruit salads. They can also be steamed or boiled and have the unusual property of retaining their crunchy texture even after cooking. (Page 39) Arracacha. Above ground, this plant (Arracacia xanthorrhiza, Umbelliferae) resembles celery, to which it is related. Below ground, however, it produces smooth-skinned roots that look somewhat like white carrots. These roots have a crisp texture and a delicate flavor that combines the tastes of celery, cabbage, and roasted chestnut. They are served boiled or fried as a table vegetable or added to stews. They sell well throughout Colombia and have become popular in the big cities of southern Brazil. (Page 47) Maca. Maca (Lepidium meyenii, Cruciferae) is a plant that resembles a radish and is related to cress, the European salad vegetable. However, although its edible leaves are eaten in salads and are used to fatten guinea pigs, it is most valued for its swollen roots. Looking like brown radishes, these are rich in sugars and starches and have a sweet, tangy flavor. They are considered a delicacy in the high plateaus of Peru and Bolivia. Dried, they can be stored for years. (Page 57) Mashua. The well-known garden nasturtium was a favorite Inca ornamental, and at high altitudes in the Andes, its close relative, mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum, Tropaeolaceae), is a food staple. Farmers often prefer mashua (also called “añú”) to other tubers because it is easier to grow. It requires less labor and care, and it can be stored in the ground and harvested when needed. (Page 67) Mauka. Mauka (Mirabilis expansa, Nyctaginaceae) has thick stems and yellow or salmon-colored fleshy roots that make it a sort of cassava of the highlands. The plant was unknown to science until “discovered” in Bolivia in the 1960s, and it now has also been found in remote mountain fields of Ecuador and Peru. If placed in the sun and then put in storage, the tubers turn very sweet, like sweet potatoes. (Page 75)
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Page 17 Oca. An exceptionally hardy plant that looks somewhat like clover, oca (Oxalis tuberosa, Oxalidaceae) produces an abundance of wrinkled tubers in an array of interesting shapes, and in shades from pink to yellow. In the Andean highlands, it is second only to the potato in the amount consumed, and is still a staple for Peruvian and Bolivian Indians living at high altitudes. The firm white flesh has a pleasant, sometimes slightly acid taste. (Page 83) Potatoes. The common potato became one of the 20 or so staple crops that feed the whole planet, but in the Andes are at least 5 other cultivated potatoes (Solanum species, Solanaceae). Collectively, these are adapted to a wide array of climates and provide a genetic source of diversity, disease resistance, and new crops. Many have unusual and marketable properties. Some are golden yellow inside, a number have a decidedly nutty taste, and almost all are more concentrated in nutrients than is the common potato. (Page 93) Ulluco. Some of the most striking-looking roots in Andean markets are the ullucos (Ullucus tuberosus, Basellaceae). They are so brightly colored—yellow, pink, red, even candy striped—that their waxy skins make them look almost like plastic fakes. Once a staple in the Inca diet, ulluco is one of the few indigenous crops that has increased its range over the last century. In some areas, it vies with potatoes as a carbohydrate staple. Many consider it a delicacy, and it is commonly purchased in modern packaging in city supermarkets. It is usually prepared like potatoes and is used chiefly in thick soups and stews. (Page 105) Yacon. Yacon (Polymnia sonchifolia, Compositae) is a distant relative of the sunflower. Grown in temperate valleys from Colombia to northwestern Argentina, it produces tubers that on the inside are white, sweet, and juicy, but almost calorie free. Because of their succulence, they are eaten raw and make a pleasant refreshment. They are also eaten cooked. In addition, the main stem is used like celery, and the plant also shows promise as a folder crop. (Page 115) GRAINS Kaniwa. This broad-leaved plant (Chenopodium pallidicaule, Chenopodiaceae) produces one of the most nutritious of all grains, with a protein content of 16–19 percent and an unusually effective
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Page 18 balance of essential amino acids. It flourishes in poor rocky soil at high elevations, usually surviving frosts that kill other grain crops, and outyielding them in droughts. Incredibly, it thrives where frosts occur nine months of the year. Snowfalls or strong winds that flatten fields of barley or even quinoa (see below) usually leave kaniwa unaffected. (Page 129) Kiwicha. The seeds of this amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus, Amaranthaceae), an almost totally neglected grain crop, have high levels of protein and the essential amino acid, lysine, which is usually lacking in plant protein. Kiwicha protein is almost comparable to milk protein (casein) in nutritional quality, and it complements the nutritional quality of foods that normally would be made from flours of corn, rice, or wheat. This makes kiwicha particularly beneficial for infants, children, and pregnant and lactating women. (Page 139) Quinoa. Although the seed of this tall herb (Chenopodium quinoa, Chenopodiaceae) is one of the best sources of protein in the vegetable kingdom, quinoa is hardly known in cultivation outside its upland Andean home. However, experience in the United States and England shows that the grain is readily accepted by people who have never tasted it before. Quinoa can be grown under particularly unfavorable conditions, at high elevation, on poorly drained lands, in cold regions, and under drought. Already, much has been learned about this plant, which is becoming a commercial success outside the Andes. (Page 149) LEGUMES Basul. Basul (Erythrina edulis, Leguminosae) is a common leguminous tree of the Andean highlands. It is unusual in that it produces large edible seeds and is one of the few trees that produces a basic food. Accordingly, it has promise as a perennial, high-protein crop for subtropical areas and tropical highlands. Beyond its use in food production, it is also a promising nitrogen-fixing tree for use in reforestation, beautification, erosion control, and forage production. (Page 165) Nuñas. The nuña (Phaseolus vulgaris, Leguminosae) is a variety of the common bean, but it is the bean counterpart of popcorn. Dropped into hot oil, nuñas burst out of their seed coats. The popping is much less dramatic than with popcorn—nuñas don't fly up into the air—but the product has a delightful flavor and a consistency somewhat like roasted peanuts. (Page 173)
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Page 19 Tarwi. This lupin (Lupinus mutabilis, Leguminosae) is one of the most beautiful crops, and its seeds are as rich, or richer, in protein than peas, beans, soybeans, and peanuts—the world's premier plant-protein sources. Also, they contain about as much vegetable oil as soybeans. Tarwi has been held back mainly because its seeds are bitter. The Indians soak them in running water for a day or two, to wash out the bitterness. Recently, engineers in Peru and Chile have developed machinery to do it more quickly and more easily. Also, geneticists in several countries have developed bitter-free varieties that need little or no washing. (Page 181) VEGETABLES Peppers. Chilies and sweet peppers (Capsicum species, Solanaceae) have become the most widely used spices in the world, but hidden in the Andes—the original home of all peppers—are several more domesticated peppers as well as some wild species. All of these are employed by local people, and they promise to add new pungency, new tastes, and new variety to many of the world's cuisines. (Page 195) Squashes and Their Relatives. Several of the fruits that are variously known as pumpkins, squashes, gourds, or vegetable marrows have their origins or greatest development in the Andes. These (Cucurbita species, Cucurbitaceae) and some lesser-known botanical relatives are robust, productive crops, especially suitable for subsistence use. Many are little known elsewhere, and offer promise of new and better foods for scores of countries. (Page 203) FRUITS Berries. Along the length of the Andes are found several dozen localized berry fruits. hese include relatives of raspberry and blackberry Rubus species, Rosaceae), blueberry (Vaccinium species, Rosaceae), and some small berries (Myrtus species, Myrtaceae) that are rather like mini guavas. Collectively, they represent a source of new and interesting fruits. (Page 213) Capuli Cherry. The black cherries that are found throughout the Americas reach their best development in the Andes, where the capuli (Prunus capuli, Rosaceae) is a popular city and backyard tree. The cherrylike fruits are found in the markets three or four months of the
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Page 20 year. Some are large, sweet, fleshy, and said to be at least as good as the traditional cherry of the rest of the world. (Page 223) Cherimoya. Of all the Inca fruits, only the cherimoya (Annona cherimola, Annonaceae) is cultivated substantially outside the Andes. It is being grown commercially in Spain, Southern California, and a few other places. Such interest is understandable. Inside the thin greenish skin of the cherimoya is a delicious, sweet, and juicy flesh with a creamy, custardlike texture. Its unique flavor tastes like a subtle blend of papaya, pineapple, and banana. (Page 229) Goldenberry. A relative of the North American husk tomato, the goldenberry (Physalis peruviana, Solanaceae) is fresh tasting and makes one of the world's finest jams. Under harsh conditions it provides a wealth of yellow, marble-sized fruits that are beginning to attract international acclaim for their flavor and appearance. (Page 241) Highland Papayas. Although the papaya is one of the premier fruits of the world, its botanical cousins (Carica species, Caricaceae) of the Andes are all but unknown. They, too, have much promise, and they might allow the extension of the cultivation of papayalike fruits into cooler areas than is now possible. (Page 253) Lucuma. This fruit (Pouteria lucuma, Sapotaceae) can be considered a “staple fruit.” Unlike oranges or apples, its fruits are dry, rich in starch, and suitable for use as a basic, everyday carbohydrate. It has been said that a single tree can feed a family year-round. The fruits are often eaten fresh and are very popular in milkshakes, ice cream, and other treats. Dried, they store for years. (Page 263) Naranjilla. Related to, but wholly unlike, tomatoes, this fruit (Solanum quitoense,0. Solanaceae) is highly esteemed in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Guatemala, but virtually unknown elsewhere. Its delicious, refreshing juice is one of the delights of the northern Andes, and it could become popular in the African and Asian tropics, where the plant could conceivably flourish. (Page 267) Pacay. Among the most unusual of all fruit trees, pacay (Inga species, Leguminosae) produces long pods filled with soft white pulp. This pulp is so sweet that the pods have been alled ice-cream beans. Not only are the fruits attractive and popular, this nitrogen-fixing tree is extremely promising for reforestation, agroforestry, and for production of wood products. (Page 277)
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Page 21 Passionfruits. This exotic fruit (Passiflora species, Passifloraceae) is becoming popular in Europe, North America, and other places. With its concentrated perfume and flavoring ability, passionfruit “develops” the taste of bland drink bases such as apple juice or white grape juice. So far, all commercial developments have been based on a single Brazilian species. In the Andes are scores of other species, some of which are reputed to be superior to the Brazilian one. (Page 287) Pepino. A large, conical, yellow fruit (Solanum muricatum, Solanaceae) with jagged purple streaks, pepino's mellow flesh tastes like a sweet melon. It is beginning to enter international commerce. Already gaining popularity in New Zealand and Japan, the delicate pepino seems destined to become a benchmark for premium fruit production. (Page 297) Tamarillo (Tree Tomato). Inca gardens high on the mountainsides contained small trees that bore large crops of egg-shaped “tomatoes.” Today these tree tomatoes (Cyphomandra betacea, Solanaceae) remain one of the most popular local fruits. They have bright, shiny, red or golden skins and can be eaten raw or cooked or added to cakes, fruit salads, sauces, or ice cream. Their succulent flesh looks somewhat like that of the tomato, but it is tart and tangy and has a piquancy quite its own. (Page 307) NUTS Quito Palm. The streets and parks of the city of Quito are lined with an elegant palm (Parajubaea cocoides, Palmae) that seems out of place because Quito is one of the highest cities in the world and has a cool climate. The palm produces many fruits that look and taste like tiny coconuts. They are so popular that only early risers can find any left on the streets. (Page 319) Walnuts. While most walnut species are natives of the Northern Hemisphere, a few occur in the Andes. They are common backyard and wayside trees, and at least one of these (Juglans Meotropica, Juglandeaceae) is a promising timber and nut tree. In New Zealand, this species has grown unusually fast for a walnut, and its nuts are of fine flavor. (Page 323)
Representative terms from entire chapter: