The humble spud that Marie Antoinette is said to have worn in her hair (and which inspired a brief fad) helped topple a dynasty. The French royal family didn’t fare too well, though; they went from eating potatoes to facing the guillotine during the revolution. It’s the potato’s history as a crop that ultimately made it so influential.
The world is still feeling the effects today, more than 200 years later. The United Nations lists potatoes as one of seven basic crops needed to feed the world’s population, and is pushing for production to increase even further. In 2011, according to UNFAO statistics, the world produced almost 400 million metric tons of potatoes.
Potatoes have a history as rich and complex as their flavor. They evolved in South America thousands of years ago from a toxic ancestor, spread to Europe via Spanish conquistadors, were initially seen as “evil incarnate” by Europeans who didn’t know how to farm or cook them, became a staple crop that helped drive population growth in Europe during the 1700s and 1800s, made it possible for millions of Irish citizens to survive The Great Hunger (and ultimately relocate), inspired new breeds like russets and purple potatoes, caused tensions between countries like Peru and Ireland over where they originated first , fueled Latin American independence movements, and are still the most consumed vegetable in the United States.
Potatoes were originally grown by Incas as early as 500-800 BC , but spread to Europe when Spanish conquistadors brought them back from Peru after taking over that land. Europeans first saw potatoes as “evil incarnate” because people who didn’t know how to farm or cook them generally got sick or died after eating them, so they became associated with famine and war . During The Great Hunger (or Irish Potato Famine), between 1845-1852, 1 million people died and another 1 million fled their homes for other countries in a mass exodus known as the Potato Famine . Because of this, Irish citizens ended up being a huge part of many waves of immigration in the United States.
Russet potatoes (a variety that was originally grown in Peru) are how French fries are made; they’re sturdy, absorbent, and have a high starch content. These qualities make them good for frying with their relatively low water content compared to other types of potatoes like red or new potatoes. The Incas grew over 200 varieties of potatoes, also known as “papas” (which is how they got their name), in colors ranging from white to purple . Russets were first commercially grown by Alexander W. Livingston who grew them in Napa Valley, California during the latter half of the 19th century at his home called Oakville Station .
McNeill, William H. Argue
– how the potato changed the world’s history
Sanchez, Jonathan (2006). Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent (1 ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press; Reprint edition (March 23, 2009). how potatoes spread around the world.
Also check out how potatoes spread around the world for more information about how they went from South America all the way to Ireland and everywhere in between. This website was also provided by an extension program of the University of Missouri and contains many helpful pictures that explain how potatoes made their way into various parts of the world.
This website talks about how trade routes were changed because of how potatoes changed the world’s history. It also provides helpful charts and diagrams to explain how what came first, how the potato spread around the world, led to how trade routes were changed. National Geographic Education is an educational site related to how all sorts of things are connected.
How the potato changed the world’s history is good for how potatoes are grown and harvested. It provides helpful diagrams, charts, and information about how they spread to various parts of the world. You could also check out how trade routes were changed because of how potatoes changed the world’s history in order to learn more about how potatoes spread around the world led to change in various trade routes. This resource also provides helpful visuals for your understanding.
Sanchez, Jonathan (2006). Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent (4 ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press; Reprint edition (March 23, 2009). National Geographic Education.
McNeill, William H. Argue how potatoes spread around the world led to change in various trade routes. University of Missouri Extension, n.d.: 1-10. Web: It provides helpful pictures, charts, and diagrams for your understanding.
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