Just writing this post is an adventure in itself. This is my first attempt at blogging from my iPad and from Perú. I’m here with 24 others on a Journey of Discovery high in the Andes Mountains. Every direction I look is the full-color pullout of a National Geographic. And at every turn, I learn how food played a dominant role in this ancient civilization.
Here’s what strikes me most about the Incas; it was the mastery of food production and storage that enabled their empire to rise. The history goes on to tell of the psychological and military tactics used by the Incas to grow their territory but I can’t get beyond the fact that it was only when they had strong agriculture and confidence in food supply that workers were able to embark upon projects like building roads and expansion. And there is very little doubt that their food sources were local and organic.
Beneath Inca rule, the Andean civilization flourished. Their roads were built into a high-altitude network. Inca farmers moved their crops up the slopes and built agricultural terraces where they grew more than 70 different native crops. The success of their farming caused a need for Inca stone masons to build vast food storage structures where up to 7 years of food was kept and intricate inventory systems were built to manage the contents.
So, what’s changed in the last 500 years? From the meals we’ve eaten, I’d suggest that the food supply remains diverse with corn, potatoes, quinoa, and amaranth as staples. I come across a recent article indicating that childhood malnutrition has dropped by as much as 9% in recent years.
The elimination of hunger caused this area to flourish once and it appears that by returning to this focus, it just may be poised to do it again. Doesn’t it make sense as a starting point for all civilizations?