Peru’s ‘wealth of the earth’ also includes its bountiful natural food crops. These food crops have been the traditional food of its native people for thousands of years. And for us to learn about it, we have to look a little bit into Peru’s long history.
Scholars believe that the very first people to live in Peru were Indians who came from North America about 12,000 years ago. They tamed the Llama (ancient Peruvian beast of burden) and began to cultivate the potato, which grew wild in the highlands. Potatoes became an important food in Peru long, long before they were known anywhere else in the world.
As far back as 2,500 BC, there was already evidence of a very organized village life and for the next 1,500 years, they developed into a number of organized cultures. The first civilization to develop was the Chuvin Indians. Then later on, the Mochicas, the Tiahuanacos and the Chimus. And these were actually advanced civilizations.
The traditional diet of these different Indian groups was basically potatoes, corn, squash, beans, (mainly black beans and pink beans-similar to pinto beans), barley, oats, wheat, cassava, rice, sugar cane, various kinds of fruits but mainly bananas, and wide varieties of edible, protein-rich nuts from the thick rainforests of what is called the low selva region, near the mighty Amazon River.
“The different Indian groups were traditionally vegetarians”, says Jorge. He says their strict tribal codes of behavior include non-violence to animals, birds and other creatures. They considered springs, rivers and mountain peaks as sacred. They prayed to their gods for rainfall and they offered back bountiful harvests of grains and root crops to them.
As far back as 2,500 BC, there was already evidence of a very organized village life and for the next 1,500 years, they developed into a number of organized cultures.