the aim of this study was to analyze the food consumption pattern and to evaluate the nutritional status and level of critical nutrients in a representative sample from the calchaqui valleys' (tucumán, argentina) population. the survey was conducted among 113 adults (n=230; 31.3% male and 68.7% female). pregnant and lactating women were excluded. the dietary energy intake (dei) was estimated by means of the 24-hour dietary recall method. the adequacy of energy intake as well as mineral and vitamin intakes were assessed on the basis of the who/fao/ unu recommendations (1985, 2002). the mean adequacy of energy intake found was low: 76.1% for men and 86.9% for women, which is not compatible with good health long-term maintenance. dietary patterns revealed high consumption of farinaceous foods and refined sugars, and low consumption of fiber, pulses and dairy products. more than 25% of the population showed moderate to high risk of inadequate intake of calcium, iron, folates and vitamin e. conclusion: the substitution of traditional dishes for a typically western diet and the decline of regional food production are reflected in the population's dietary pattern. these results could explain the nutrient deficiency observed, and may be a starting point for the development of programs promoting the production and preservation of local traditional foods, which would contribute to improve the population's eating habits and meet their food and energy demands. such programs could also help encourage appreciation of regional food culture and traditional cuisine.