This Peruvian Engineer’s Cookie Fights Childhood Anemia

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
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Julio Garay Barrios, an agroindustrial engineer from Ayacucho, Peru, is the winner of History Channel’s Latino show “Una Idea Para Cambiar La Historia.” The competition highlights innovators from Latin America with ideas that have the potential to change everyday life for many. On Wednesday, Garay was announced as the winner.

“This Peruvian idea will [change] Latin America and the world,” he told local outlets.

At the age of 5, Garay briefly suffered from anemia. It was far from a singular experience and need eventually sparked the idea. Five out of 10 children in Peru suffer from anemia. After studying agroindustrial engineering at Universidad Nacional San Cristóbal de Huamanga by way of a prestigious scholarship called Beca 18 (which pays for all costs), the humble engineer worked tirelessly to come up with an edible (read: not gross tasting) cookie to combat anemia in record time. It took him three years to come up with the concept now known as Nutri H.

Nutri H is made up of quinoa, cacao and (wait for it) bovine hemoglobin by way of cow blood. The iron-rich cookie bar promises to eradicate anemia in customers who vow to eat one a day for 30 days. A local test study showed full eradication in 50% of the group.

Ideas from other finalists included a glove to facilitate life for those with total or partial hand disability, a complementary study for the early detection of breast cancer, and an app that assists people with visual impairments.

Garay won first place and $50,000 by a public vote. About 700,000 folks from 135 countries.

“I’m very emotional and happy because Nutri H is a family [affair],” he said. “The base of every project and sacrifice is family.”