This root vegetable is probably among the most popular vegetables in our contemporary world. It’s come a long way from its air 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 introduction in Europe. The Western World didn’t even encounter it until about the mid-sixteenth century and it wouldn’t make it to the Old World for another few decades.
This rugged tuber met resistance at first. The potato was thought to be poisonous due to the fact it is a member of the poisonous”Nightshade” family. A green potato for example, contains a substance known as”solanine” which tastes bitter and can make humans 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 began to cultivate the potato around 1780. The Irish became so dependent on this dependence lead to a population explosion leading to famine. People starved or ate weeds and grass to ward off hunger. Today the potato has become a staple in many countries such as the USA, where it is now grown in all 50 states.
Potatoes are grown in over 125 countries across the world.
Germans eat two times as many potatoes as Americans do. Americans eat an average of about 125 pounds per year!
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.