I always identify with this phrase by Mario Testino, the world famous Peruvian photographer. I cannot imagine being born in any other place. The country of Peru is infinitely seductive – through my work writing and producing documentaries I am allowed to declare and express that love.
The film, «King of the Desert is dying” was a short documentary that aimed to publicize the threat of extinction of of one of the most important and long-lived trees in Peru – the Guarango, which for more than 5000 years has been a source of nourishment and energy for local communities, functioning as a kind of magnet for water. «Hands of God», a video that took 15 years to complete – was about one of my most loyal and musical friends, Julio Algendones, known to all as “Chocolate”. And now, «Hatun Phajcha, Tierra Sana» – is a documentary that explores the world of local plants that both delight us, feed us, nurture and heal us.
Peru’s gastronomic boom forms the introduction to the film, and this leads to the discovery of the wealth of both taste and nutrition that has been treasured for centuries here. I am always surprised to discover how many common foods originated in Peru. We all know that potatoes and quinoa are from Peru, but there are many other treasures such as cocoa and tomatoes whose Peruvian origins are not so well known. I can not imagine a world without Bloody Marys or pizza, made possible by the use of the tomato, which was bred for cultivation here. Or without chicha morada or mazamorra morada whose main ingredient is our famous purple corn.
The main characters in the film are farmers – the guardians of this genetic and cultural heritage who have passed down through generations both agricultural techniques to grow the plants, and the recipes to prepare them. They understand which plants can survive the cold, which can tolerate heat or drought, which foods are “super foods” which have great health benefits and medicinal properties.
For centuries we have identified with having a «un espíritu sano en un cuerpo sano» (a healthy mind in a healthy body). It is time where that focus shifts toward a «corpus sanum in sanus solo» (a healthy body in a healthy earth). Today, in Peru, exist major environmental threats. Despite the wealth of nutritious plants, there is still a high high percentage of malnutrition and obesity in Peru. The chronic malnutrition rate is approximately 19% nationwide for children under 5 years and in rural areas that reaches around one third or 33%.
This documentary delivers the voices of the practitioners who understand and practice a relationship of respect and exchange between man and earth. The film will share discoveries and research in new areas such as microbiota, the microbiome, both the pre-biotic and pro-biotic, plants such la quinua, la kiwicha, la cañihua, la maca, el tarwi, el pallar, la oca, la mashua, la aracacha, el olluco, el yacón, el ají, el aguaymanto, el camu-camu, el aguaje, el ungurahui, el huasai, el sanky, la pitajaya, la chirimoya, el sauco… the list of interesting and important plants, is almost endless !!
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Photo Credits: Danielle Pereira
“Pensar es como vivir dos veces.” - Cicerón