Chris with bags of Maca. Peruvian Andes. Medicine Hunter, Inc. & copy 2006

The Shaman’s Pharmacy
UMass Amherst Magazine
by Matthew Gagnon
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At an altitude of 15,000 feet in the Andes, most of us would be gulping for air. Yet thin oxygen is all in a day’s work to the people who live on the Junin Plateau of Peru; so are the challenges of farming in extreme weather conditions that can rapidly fluctuate between day and night. This is where farmers make their living hand-harvesting a tuberous root called maca from the rocky soil. With just enough rain (and if grazing sheep don’t find it), maca grows underground to maturity in eight months, and, once harvested, is a prized commodity—for local farmers as well as the burgeoning field of alternative medicines...

"In the 1960s a lot of us came to believe that things that were natural were just intrinsically better for you... which of course turned out to be the case, in terms of safety, toxicity, and all those important factors.” - Chris Kilham, UMass Magazine

January 2008