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Foods 2018, 7(12), 202;

A Microethnographic and Ethnobotanical Approach to Llayta Consumption among Andes Feeding Practices

Departamento de Educación, Facultad de Educación, Universidad de Antofagasta, Antofagasta 124000, Chile
Departamento Biomédico, Facultad Ciencias de la Salud, and Centre for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, CeBiB, Universidad de Antofagasta; Antofagasta 1240000, Chile
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 October 2018 / Revised: 22 November 2018 / Accepted: 28 November 2018 / Published: 9 December 2018
PDF [876 KB, uploaded 17 December 2018]


Llayta is a dietary supplement that has been used by rural communities in Perú and northern Chile since pre-Columbian days. Llayta is the biomass of colonies of a Nostoc cyanobacterium grown in wetlands of the Andean highlands, harvested, sun-dried and sold as an ingredient for human consumption. The biomass has a substantial content of essential amino acids (58% of total amino acids) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (33% total fatty acids). This ancestral practice is being lost and the causes were investigated by an ethnographic approach to register the social representations of Llayta, to document how this Andean feeding practice is perceived and how much the community knows about Llayta. Only 37% of the participants (mostly adults) have had a direct experience with Llayta; other participants (mostly children) did not have any knowledge about it. These social responses reflect anthropological and cultural tensions associated with a lack of knowledge on Andean algae, sites where to find Llayta, where it is commercialized, how it is cooked and on its nutritional benefits. The loss of this ancestral feeding practice, mostly in northern Chile, is probably associated with cultural changes, migration of the rural communities, and very limited access to the available information. We propose that Llayta consumption can be revitalized by developing appropriate educational strategies and investigating potential new food derivatives based on the biomass from the isolated Llayta cyanobacterium. View Full-Text
Keywords: Andean microalgae consumption; Atacama; cyanobacteria; Llayta; microethnography; Nostoc Andean microalgae consumption; Atacama; cyanobacteria; Llayta; microethnography; Nostoc

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Rivera, M.; Galetović, A.; Licuime, R.; Gómez-Silva, B. A Microethnographic and Ethnobotanical Approach to Llayta Consumption among Andes Feeding Practices. Foods 2018, 7, 202.

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