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Space-Age Food Products Cultivated By Incas Ahead Of NASA

First Posted: Aug 11, 2016 09:32 PM EDT

Nobody would ever think that an indigenous group of people could have something in common with NASA, but they do. These people face the problem of long journeys through harsh territories, and way before the Space Administration began looking for ways to feed astronauts in space, Incas already have their answer.

According to The New York Times, the Inca empire that ran down the spine of the Andes terraced farms and mountaintop outposts as they travel roughly the same disatance as Stockholm to Cairo, bringing with them nourishing food that could travel well and could be stored in bulk for long periods. One of their discoveries include the chuño, which still exist to this day.

Chuño (CHOON-yoh) are freeze-dried potatoes developed by a culture that didn't even have today's food-processing technology. The villagers from the high tablelands of Bolivia and Peru still make this dish the way Incas did, using warm days and frosty nights to thaw and freeze potatoes, stomping them with their bare feet to remove skins and liquids.

The best part? The chuño can be stored and eaten for a decade after it has dried. After drying the potatoes, there are a number of dishes that you can make with white chuño or tunta, as well. Peru Blog noted that there are a variety of dishes you can choose to make with these potatoes, including Escabeche de Tunta, Ocopa de Tunta, Tunta Rellena with Charqui (beef jerky) and cheese, and even a tunta stew.

Inca descendants still prize these chuño, and they often serve it with Andean chili. This type of food is especially important because the region where they live have periodic droughts that could destroy their crops. During these difficult times, chuño can provide the food that they need to survive - and NASA astronauts could probably do well to store their food the same way, too.

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