The Incas were great
farmers. The three staple crops were
corn, potatoes, and quinoa - quinoa seeds were used to make cereal,
flour, and soups. Corn was special to the Incas. It was used in
religious ceremonies. They also used it to make a drink called chicha.
The Incas were the first civilization to plant and harvest potatoes.
Besides their staple crops
of corn, potatoes, and quinoa, they grew tomatoes,
avocados, peppers, strawberries, peanuts, squash, sweet potatoes, beans,
pineapple, bananas, peanuts, spices, and coco leaves to make chocolate.
They kept honeybees. Occasionally, seasonal hunts were organized to
catch meat for the nobility. Commoners ate very little meat, but they
did not go hungry.
The Incas invented the
first freeze-dried method of storage. They
left their food out in the cold to freeze. Then they stamped on the
frozen food to squeeze out the water. They left their stamped on food in
the sun to dry. It worked. When they wanted to use the dehydrated foods,
they simply added water.
The Incas invented terrace
gardening. They carved steps of flat land up the
side of the mountain to create flat land for farming. The terraces also
helped to keep rainwater from running off. They reduced erosion. The
government built raised aqueducts to carry water to farmlands for
The Inca farmers grew more
food than was needed. Some of their food was dried
and stored in royal warehouses for times of war or famine.