THE MACA MAN / Brasspineapple Productions LLC
Music Credits : Dr Cryptic - Spiritual War
Maca is the only member of its genus with a fleshy hypocotyl, which is fused with the taproot to form a rough inverted-pear-shaped body. Maca does vary greatly in the size and shape of the root, which may be triangular, flattened circular, spherical, or rectangular, the latter of which forms the largest roots. Maca hypocotyls may be gold or cream, red, purple, blue, black, or green. Each is considered a genetically unique variety, as seeds of the parent plants grow to have roots of the same color. Recently, specific phenotypes (in maca, 'phenotype' pertains mainly to root color) have been propagated exclusively to ascertain their different nutritional and therapeutic properties. Cream colored roots are the most widely grown and are favored in Peru for their enhanced sweetness and size.
Maca is mainly grown for the nutritional and health value of its root. The majority of harvested maca is dried. In this form, the hypocotyls can be stored for several years. In Peru, maca is prepared and consumed in various ways, although traditionally it always is cooked. The freshly harvested hypocotyl may be roasted in a pit (called huatia), and is considered a delicacy. Fresh roots usually are available only in the vicinity of the growers. The root also can be mashed and boiled to produce a sweet, thick liquid, then dried and mixed with milk to form a porridge. The cooked roots are also used with other vegetables in empanadas, jams, or soups. The root may be ground to produce a flour for bread, cakes, or pancakes. If fermented, a weak beer called chicha de maca may be produced. In 2010 a U.S.-based brewery called Andean Brewing Company, became the first company to produce and commercialize beer made from Maca under the brand KUKA Beer. From the black morphotype a liquor is produced. Also the leaves are edible or may serve as animal fodder. They can be prepared raw in salads or cooked much like Lepidium sativum and Lepidium campestre, to which it is closely related genetically.
The growing demand of the supplement industry has been one of the primary reasons for maca's expanding cultivation in Peru and Bolivia. The prominent product for export is maca flour, which is a baking flour ground from the hard, dried roots. It is called "harina de maca." Maca flour (powder) is a relatively inexpensive bulk commodity, much like wheat flour or potato flour. The supplement industry uses both the dry roots and maca flour for different types of processing and concentrated extracts. An internet query will show dozens of different extracts available, each touting a particular efficaciousness for a traditional use or health claim. Another common form is maca processed by gelatinization. This is an extrusion process which separates and removes the tough fiber from the roots using gentle heat and pressure, as raw maca is difficult to digest due to its thick fibers and goitrogen content. Gelatinization was developed for maca specifically to mimic the activity of cooking, and to allow gentler digestion. Gelatinized maca is employed mainly for therapeutic and supplement purposes, but also can be used like maca flour, as a flavor in cooking. Available also is a freeze-dried maca juice, which is squeezed from the macerated fresh root, and subsequently freeze-dried high in the Andes.
Maca has been harvested and used by humans in the Andean Mountains for centuries. Contrary to frequent claims that maca's cultivation was common in what is today Peru, it has been shown that until the late 1980s, maca has been cultivated only in a limited area around Lake Junin, in Central Peru. Historically, maca often was traded for lowland tropical food staples, such as corn, rice, manioc (tapioca roots), quinoa, and papaya. It also was used as a form of payment of Spanish imperial taxes. It is cited that maca was eaten by Inca imperial warriors before battles. Their legendary strength allegedly was imparted by the preparatory consumption of copious amounts of maca, fueling formidable warriors. After a city was conquered, the women had to be protected from the Inca warriors, as reportedly they became ambitiously virile from eating such quantities of maca. This is of course an appealing endorsement for the masculine angle of maca's recent marketing campaign. Whether or not this often-repeated legendary use is true has yet to be determined. Those who have studied maca's history have not been able to locate formal mention of this particular use historically.
Copyright © 2014 Brasspineapple Productions L.L.C. Jason Matthew Mahan