For This Green Smoothie, the First Ingredient Is Frog

By Evan Gershkovich – May 20, 2016

The New York Times

If you Google the words “green smoothie,” you will be inundated withrecipes for the perfect healthy shake. You might have to look a little farther for the elixir popular in Peru and Bolivia, which relies not on leafy greens, but on the endangered Titicaca water frog.

While the American green smoothie is promoted as the “fastest way to get your veggies,” its Andean counterpart is considered a cure for an array of ailments, including anemia, fever, tuberculosis, typhus and even female infertility.

Today, Peruvians and Bolivians of all ages regularly go to the feria, a weekend market, to drink the smoothie, which is prepared à la minute. According to Arturo Muñoz, the project coordinator of the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative, you can also find the drink in shops in Lima and Arequipa, Peru’s largest cities, most days of the week.

If you would rather make the shake, here’s how:

1. Head to Lake Titicaca and catch a frog.

2. Lop off the frog’s head, skin it and toss the body into a blender. (The less adventurous can boil it first.)

3. Add brown sugar, honey and carrots to taste.

4. If you wish to distract further from the main ingredient, try a little quinoa, which will turn the light green blend to brown.

5. And, if in need of an aphrodisiac, add maca root.

Both Peru and Bolivia have passed laws prohibiting this process, because of the frogs’ critically endangered status. Animal rights advocates have also questioned whether the frog smoothie is a remedy for any of the aforementioned ailments. (There appears to be no scientific evidence supporting the claims.)

But “there are many cases where local folk knowledge ends up working out,” said Ben Orlove, an anthropologist at Columbia University who has spent much of his career studying Lake Titicaca. He added that “misguided development projects upstream” presented a far bigger threat to the frogs than the smoothie craze.

Indeed, Mr. Muñoz, who monitors the frog population, said that when he scoured more than 100 square miles of the lake in January, not a single one could be found.

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