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8/3/13

Live for 100 years, eat Kuchucho

Many years ago your humble scribe made friends with the owner of a health food store in the Altiplano region of Peru. The conversations were wide ranging (as they tend to be amongst friends) but his job and the body of understanding about the properties of local plants were often there or thereabouts. At one point the local beet-like plant 'maca' had started gaining press for its supposed benefits, including giving greater energy, sexual appetite and fertility to the person who ate it (often as a flour). When maca came up, my friend once replied to the effect of, "Yes, but you wait til they hear about kuchucho" and that memory was jogged this week by reports out of Peru such as this one which have one Vidal Villagómez, head of the Program of Tubers and Edible Roots at Peru's National Agrarian University (La Molina), talking up kuchucho to one and all.

The plant itself is a carrot-like thing which is mainly grown around the Lake Titicaca region (top spot for its cultivation is the Peru town of Ilave, on the banks of the lake). It's been known for hundreds of years locally as the "plant of longevity" and the spiel has always been that people who eat it "stay young and live to 100". It's also known as a libido kickstarter that's more powerful than maca. After his faculties' official-type studies Villagómez said this week that the local Altiplano residents may indeed be onto something, because results show that kuchucho contains a whole bunch of good things including high-quality starches, double the amount of calcium than milk and very high phosphorous content. To which news the locals around the lake will almost certainly shake their heads and wonder why the world needed a scientist to tell them what they knew already.