Welcome to Yuca
Currently there is a global health movement growing. People are more conscious about their health and are seeking alternatives to traditional eating habits. The realization that there are many different superfoods virtually untouched by the average population has created a desire to experiment with and try new exotic foods. Many of these superfoods have been brought over from South America, Asia, and Africa. Indigenous peoples have thrived off the land and sustained massive civilizations with the use of superfoods. One in particular is gaining momentum in North America.
To the right, is the Yuca (Quechua name spoken in Peru) root. This root has many different names depending on where you are geographically: cassava, manioc, manioca, yucca root, casaba, and tapioca. It is currently an essential root vegetable in the Caribbean diet.
Yuca is a perennial plant that is found in tropical climates. In Africa, Asia, and South America, it has been used as a major food source. Indigenous people use it along with other high-starch foods like yams, taro, plantains, and potatoes. While it is still not well known outside of the tropics, it accounts for about 30% of the world production of roots. Recently popular in the Americas is tapioca. Grinding the yuca root into small powder balls forms tapioca balls- enjoyed in boba teas and various drinks.
To clarify some dispute, YUCA and YUCCA are two very different plants. Yuca, is the root while Yucca is a scrub.
Why the sudden interest?
As the world continues to connect more and more, people are able to enjoy the benefits of fruits and vegetables that were once out of reach. Not long ago, if you were not born in the tropics, yuca would have been virtually intangible. But now, people all over the world can reap the benefits.
The general population also has access to endless amounts of new information. So with that comes new opportunities to incorporate in daily life. Previously you would have walked into a grocery store, unable to decipher what this long brown root was. Now with a quick Google search the information is there for you disposal. Recipes for this root are endless. The endless recipes allow you to experiment and diversify your diet.
The Energy it Provides is Incredible!
In Peru, South America we visited a local family. They were simply the most welcoming, humble, and hardworking family I’d ever encountered. In many cultures around the world it is very common for large families to live together. In one home you may have your mother, father, grandparents, great-grandparents, children and grandchildren. It is very common to take in family members and live as one large family unit. What we saw in this family was that everyone was extraordinarily hard working. Even the great-grandparents would pitch in to help around the house. While the activity they partook in was more limited than those of the younger generations, it was incredible to see the how agile and energized these men and women were.
I remember asking one day how they found the energy to work so hard at their age.
With a smile the older lady said, “comer bien.”
That was it, a simple explanation. “Comer bien” translates to “eat well.” These families eat fresh and powerful superfoods everyday. The yuca root is only a supplement to the other superfoods Peruvians have been enjoying for centuries.
How is it that this simple answer: comer bien, could lead to a long-lasting and healthy life.
I thought back to the United States where much of our older generation are forced to reside in Nursing Homes, or never make it to be a great-grandparent. These older generations thrive in Peru and are well respected. Their persistent activity and nutritious diets help them excel in life.
Processed vs Natural
Now comes the inevitable truth that many populations that suffer with obesity hate to admit. You are what you eat. Now what we see with the people in Peru is that most families eat a diet consisting of fresh grains, fruits, and vegetables acquired at the local open-air markets. These families are fueling their bodies with unprocessed, natural ingredients. A meal is made from scratch and all meals are viewed as family events. Everyone eats meals together and eats equally. There is little overindulgence because the quality of food creates a sensation of satisfaction and wholeness. There is no need for a cookie after dinner because there is no dependency on sugar like we find in the U.S. Since the foods are unprocessed, meals lack added sugars and preservatives. Their bodies run like a well-oiled machine- not like one that is driven by cravings. Imagine how powerful your body would feel if you energized it with whole foods- superfoods! Could you imagine how strong you would feel. Not lacking energy, not craving chips or cream puffs. Incorporating superfoods such as yuca into your diet slowly can show you how strong you can feel. It takes one small step that will lead to endless amounts of healthy decisions.
Don’t be afraid to try yuca. Your body will thank you for it!