TLDR? Maca is a superfood that you can get in most health food stores around Medellin.
South America and Colombia are home to some of the most beautiful and bio-diverse ecosystems on Earth. The region teems with countless mysteries that lie in some fantastic-looking places to visit.
One thing that’s very interesting to study if you’re down there for a visit is some of the traditional substances. Many of these are used for natural medicine and nutrition. These things are often sourced locally and are different than the kinds of substances you might encounter in the US.
One supplement that’s particularly worth noting is nutritious and energizing maca root. Also known as Peruvian ginseng, it’s begun to gain worldwide popularity for its energizing health benefits!
If you’re interested in learning more about this amazing plant, then what follows is a brief guide on some of the basics!
A South American Native
Maca is a short shrubby plant that’s from the Brassica family. The brassicas are a family of plants that includes many of the edible ones that we eat, including broccoli and cabbage.
In terms of appearance, maca very strongly resembles many of the world’s edible root vegetables. This includes things like radishes, turnips, and parsnips.
If you placed a maca root next to one of these, you might not be able to pick one from the other!
That being said, maca roots can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and there’s a great deal of variability in how they can appear.
The maca plant loves altitude and grows high in the Andes mountains at elevations between 12-15,000 feet. The people who cultivate maca generally have to climb to altitudes like this to get the plant to grow.
Many Uses and Forms
Once a maca crop is ready for harvest, it can be prepared and sold in several different ways.
One of the most popular ways to purchase and consume maca is in powdered form. This type of maca can include packaged powder in gel capsules, as well as larger bags that contain the powder.
In powdered form, it’s quite easy to add to shakes, smoothies, and juices. This is one of the things that has resulted in maca beginning to pop up in cafes and juice bars all over the world.
Other popular ways to consume maca include in its raw or dried form. In Colombia and other South American countries, it is common to see maca sold at farmer’s markets in either of these forms.
You can also ferment the root to add its flavor to various alcoholic beverages, including a form of chica called chicha de maca.
Health Benefits Galore
The main reason that maca has begun to become so popular is due to its fantastic energizing effects. Many have likened them to being similar to ginseng.
It makes for a great pre or post-workout addition to whatever you might routinely consume for those habits. And, you might find that you like the flavor as well.
That being said, the flavor is a bit of an acquired taste. That’s because the root tastes something like a medicinal, almost spicy radish or turnip. But, if you like either of those vegetables then you’ll probably like maca as well.
One of the main reasons has been to energize and enhance their ability to do often intense agricultural work. It also helps them adapt to living at the high altitudes in the Andes.
The traditional uses of maca are many, and some swear by it as a fertility drug that helps those who are looking to have a child.
This has contributed to an enormous boom in demand for maca worldwide. Although, for this particular form of health I should say that it remains highly controversial whether it produces results.
I should also add that if you’re looking to use maca in these ways, always consult a licensed physician before you use any substance for fertility!
Despite the controversy surrounding maca’s use as a fertility enhancer, the root has been enjoyed for thousands of years in the Andes as a health enhancer, which lends at least some credence to its beneficial effects.
Where To Obtain Maca in Medellin
During my time in Colombia, I’ve found maca to be a nice addition to my morning routine. I often buy bags of powdered stuff to add to smoothies and even coffee sometimes.
Then, I add the powdered maca to any liquid that will take to it. I’ve found that it acts as a nice energy booster if I’m feeling a bit dour or tired.
I should add that I personally enjoy the flavor of maca. But, even if you’re a bit skittish about that, you should find that a little bit of the stuff goes a long way if you incorporate it into your daily routine.
One place that I found to consistently stock high-quality organic maca was the health food store and vegan restaurant Salud Pan. This place is in Laureles, and I have written about it several times in the blog.
Since it’s such a staple in Colombia for folk medicine, you can also reliably find it at traditional botanicas and herb stores.
Learning More About The Enchantments of Colombia
One of the major bonuses of spending time in Medellin is having access to the incredible ecological wealth of South America. The continent is home to some of the world’s most fascinating ecosystems.
From the Amazon to the Andes, the land that supports Medellin and the rest of Colombia is teeming with natural treasures. Some of which have possibly not even been discovered yet!
Maca is just one example of the fascinating examples of the natural bounty of South America that can be used to enhance one’s life to live more healthily. For that, I’m grateful to have discovered it! And hopefully, you find some use for it as well.
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