Other Developing Areas. For many Third World areas, the nuña's greatest inherent quality is its relatively low requirements for cooking fuel—a critical consideration where deforestation is acute or kerosene expensive.
This crop's close relationship to the common bean suggests that it could grow well and be readily adapted in regions far beyond its present range. So far, however, it seems best adapted to the montane tropics. Future research will likely give it broader adaptability.
Industrialized Regions. Nuñas could be a new and nutritious snack food with potential for North America, Europe, Japan, and other industrialized areas. This situation is analogous to the discovery of popcorn or roasted peanuts by the modern world. This remains to be tested, however. Some crops from very high elevations—and nuñas may be one—are highly restricted in their adaptive range. Although there is a possibility that they require the high light intensity and, perhaps, the high altitude to retain their popping quality, this is probably not the case (see later).
In the central and northern Andes of Peru, nuñas are prepared in traditional ways much like popcorn. They are toasted for 5–10 minutes in a hot frying pan, which is usually coated with vegetable oil or animal fat.4 The seed coat splits in two or more places, often between the cotyledons. The toasted product is served at main meals as a side dish, is eaten as a snack, and—in southern Peru—is often sold to tourists.5
Nutrient levels are high and similar to those of the common bean. The protein content is about 22 percent.6
Agronomic techniques are the same as for common beans. Because of its viny habit, the nuña plant in the Andes is almost always interplanted with corn so it can climb on the stalks.