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WHAT ARE CHUFAS?

The word and how it got here:
chufa (choo' fa) n.  A sedge, native to the Old World, having edible, nut like tubers.  [Spanish, fluff, nonsense, from Old Spanish, from chufar, chuflar, to hiss at, laugh at, from Vulgar Latin sufilare (unattested), variant of Latin sibilare, to whistle at, hiss down].

How we say it:
Chufa is a Spanish word meaning ground almond, "chufa", has been called earth almond, groundnut, tigernut, duck potato and edible rush.  We know it to be a tuber that grows underground on the fibrous roots of a nut plant.  These chufa tubers are used for seed to propagate chufas.  For many years chufas have been cultivated for food and drink for men and planted for hogs.  In the last 50 years it has been realized that chufas are an excellent winter food source for wild turkeys.  The tubers contain protein, carbohydrates, sugars, and lots of oil and fiber.

Their status today:
In the United States today the primary use of chufas as a crop is to attract and feed wild game, particularly wild turkeys.  Wild turkey population in the U.S. has escalated in recent years through conservation practices of The Wild Turkey Federation and other organizations who grew to love money too much. Although there are ecologically sound and sentimentally vague reasons for improving wild turkey habitat and providing them with food, probably the main reason, unpopular as it may sound to many patriots, some of whom think the wild turkey should be our national symbol rather than the bald eagle, is that this ground running, low-flying, sharp-sighted, fleet and wily bird is the most challenging game bird in the U.S. to hunt and kill for sport and Thanksgiving dinner. What better reason, the avid turkey hunter asks, to do as much as possible to increase their population?  And in fact, because of the efforts of all of those people in love with the wild turkey, for whatever reason--ecological, sentimental, hunting thrill, or taste--the wild turkey population is soaring. In spite of a growing number of hunters, with their camouflage gear and blackened faces, armed with bows and arrows, rifles, bolos, boomerangs, slingshots and shotguns, this increase in wild turkey population is to a great extent quite simple.  There's an easy-to grow, winter preserved, primitive sedge plant that will, much like peanuts, produce handfuls of tasty, nutritious nuggets from the planting of a single tuber. Turkeys love chufa tubers.  As natural scratchers, once discovering a plot of chufa, they will return again and again, all winter long, or until spring arrives with its plethora of easier-to-grab food. Not to say that other critters don't love this high-protein, 30% oil content, vitamin-rich, highly concentrated food.  In years gone by, chufa tubers were planted late in the season --late spring to mid-summer--so that pigs could be turned into the fields to fatten and improve the taste of pork. Deer paw them up, and raccoons dig them up.  Ducks dive for them when wetland fields are flooded.   If you plan to grow chufa to attract and feed your turkey flocks, grow enough for all the other critters, too. In Spain, a lovely milky elixir is served in health spas, pubs, and restaurants; a refreshing beverage that will remind you of coconut and pineapple--made from the lowly chufa.  See HORCHATA

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