Maca is one of the most well-known superfoods. Within the raw food movement the plant is praised for her high concentration of nutrients and delicious taste. There are different types of maca: red, black, blue, purple, green and yellow. Yellow maca is most commonly used in dishes. This variety has a vanilla-nutty taste that’s reminiscent of butterscotch. Maca is a nice addition to for example smoothies.
Wild and cultivated maca
People that have used maca for decades, claim that the power of maca is subsiding. This is mainly due to the fact that thirty years ago solely wild maca was available for consumption. Nowadays it’s only the cultivated ones.
The cultivated plant and the wild variety differ to such an extent that biologists argue about the question whether or not they are two different plants.
Maca from up in the mountains
Wild maca is a strong plant that grows at 4000 meters altitude in the Andes. During the growing season temperature may vary from -2ºC to 13ºC. It’s not unlikely the temperature drops even further for short periods of time, sometimes even to -10ºC. The wind can blow forcefully up in the mountains and the sun shines brightly. Besides maca there are few crops that can be grown in these extreme weather conditions.
The history of maca
The cultivation of maca started about 5000 years ago by Indians that constructed plantations in the Andes at the same height where wild maca grows. Maca was the main staple of their daily menu. They dried the root of the plant in order to have something to eat during periods of scarcity. Maca also served as exchange for other types of food from lower living tribes.
When the Spaniards conquered Peru in the sixteenth century they got introduced to maca. The plant was adored to such an extent that the Spanish made the Indians pay taxes by donating part of their maca harvest.
Over the course of time the popularity of maca varied greatly. There have been periods the plant seemed completely forgotten. Some thirty years ago maca was rediscovered. Western demand increased sharply and suddenly the plant was threatened with extinction.
From that moment on, large maca plantations were established in Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. These plantations provide a very tasty and extraordinarily healthy product. However, it’s not the same maca as the original wild variety that grows at 4000 meters altitude.
Yellow or black (or red) maca?
Do you want to eat maca because you like it and you want to take good care of yourself? Then the golden yellow powder suffices. But do you want to use maca for its beneficial properties, then we recommend black and red maca in particular.
Are you wondering if maca is something for you? Read more in the maca article in the Azarius Encyclopaedia.
Written by: Sofie