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Eating History - The Potato

Posted on June 7, 2021 by Hunter Rigaud

This root vegetable is probably among the most popular vegetables in our contemporary world. It's come a long way from its atmosphere thin roots in the South American mountain ranges.

Long before the potato reached the beaches of the Emerald Isle, it was widely cultivated some 7,000 years prior to its debut in Europe. The Western World did not even encounter it before about the mid-sixteenth century and it wouldn't make it into the Old World for another few decades.

This rocky tuber met resistance in the beginning. The potato was believed to be poisonous due to the fact it is a member of the poisonous"Nightshade" family. A green potato as an instance, contains a substance known as"solanine" which tastes bitter and can make people ill. When first introduced into the Old World, it was used to feed prisoners as well as the infirm.

It was not until the late eighteenth century the potato would be raised from its lowly station. Ireland started to cultivate the potato around 1780. The Irish became so reliant on this addiction result in a population explosion leading to famine. The Irish Potato Famine hit around 1845. Like the plagues of Ancient Egypt, a fungus wiped out the potato crop. People starved or ate weeds and grass to ward off hunger. Lots of people died and many more would leave Ireland in search of a better life in the New World. Now the curry has become a staple in many countries such as the USA, where it's currently grown in all 50 states.

Did you know?

- Potatoes are grown in more than 125 countries across the world.

- Germans consume two times as many potatoes as Americans do. Americans consume an average of about 125 pounds annually!

- It is said that Thomas Jefferson introduced"French Fries" to America after serving them in a White House Dinner.

- The potato is about 80% water and 20% solids.

- An 8-ounce roasted or boiled potato has only about 100 calories.