Food Fun and Facts- The Humble Potato - Facts and History about the Potato

In 1845, a disaster struck Ireland.

Overnight, a mysterious blight attacked the potato crops, turning the potatoes black and destroying the only real food of nearly six million people.

Over the next five years, the blight attacked again and again.

These years are known today as the Great Irish Famine, a time when one million people died from starvation and disease and two million more fled their homeland.

Black Potatoes is the compelling story of men, women, and children who defied landlords and searched empty fields for scraps of harvested vegetables and edible weeds to eat, who walked several miles each day to hard-labor jobs for meager wages and to reach soup kitchens, and who committed crimes just to be sent to jail, where they were assured of a meal.

It’s the story of children and adults who suffered from starvation, disease, and the loss of family and friends, as well as those who died.

Illustrated with black and white engravings, it’s also the story of the heroes among the Irish people and how they held on to hope.
Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850

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The Potato tells the story of how a humble vegetable, once regarded as trash food, had as revolutionary an impact on Western history as the railroad or the automobile.

Using Ireland, England, France, and the United States as examples, Larry Zuckerman shows how daily life from the 1770s until World War I would have been unrecognizable-perhaps impossible-without the potato, which functioned as fast food, famine insurance, fuel and labor saver, budget stretcher, and bank loan, as well as delicacy.

The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World

The potato chip has been one of America’s favorite snacks since its accidental origin in a nineteenth century kitchen.

Crunch! A History of the Great American Potato Chip

Tells the story of this crispy, salty treat, from the early sales of locally made chips at corner groceries, county fairs, and cafes to the mass marketing and corporate consolidation of the modern snack food industry.

Illustrated with images of early snack food paraphernalia and clever packaging from the glory days of American advertising art, Crunch! is an informative tour of large and small business in America and the vicissitudes of popular tastes.
Crunch!: A History of the Great American Potato Chip

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Humble Potato Facts

During the Alaskan Klondike Gold Rush (1896-1898) potatoes were practically worth their weight in gold.

Potatoes were so valued for their vitamin C content that miners traded gold for potatoes!

On the south Atlantic Island of Tristan De Cunha, potatoes were once used as the
country's unofficial currency. Because the island was so remote, food was most valuable!

Potato Production Facts 1997

U.S potato production in 1997 was 459.9million cwt (cwt=100 pounds)

Per Capita Consumption

In 1997 142 pounds of potatoes per person
(compared to a low of 114/7 pounds of potatoes
in 1980 and 137.9 pounds of potatoes in 1995)

Percentage of Potatoes grown by variety, 1997

Reds 6%, Whites 26% , Russets 68%
How were these varieties of Potatoes used in 1997?

26% went to the fresh produce market

35% were for frozen products (mostly french fries)

10% were for making potato chips

11% were used for dehydrated products

1% were used for canned products(soups and stews)

The statistical information above on potatoes is from
the United States Department of Agriculture
Economic Research Service

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The potato, humble, lumpy, bland, familiar, is a decidedly unglamorous staple of the dinner table.

John Reader’s narrative on the role of the potato in world history suggests we may be underestimating this remarkable tuber.
In this witty and engaging book, Reader opens our eyes to the power of the potato.

Whether embraced as the solution to hunger or wielded as a weapon of exploitation, blamed for famine and death or recognized for spurring progress, the potato has often changed the course of human events.

Reader focuses on sixteenth-century South America, where the indigenous potato enabled Spanish conquerors to feed thousands of conscripted native people; eighteenth-century Europe, where the nutrition-packed potato brought about a population explosion; and today’s global world, where the potato is an essential food source but also the world’s most chemically-dependent crop.

Where potatoes have been adopted as a staple food, social change has always followed.
It may be “just” a humble vegetable, John Reader shows, yet the history of the potato has been anything but dull.
Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent

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Recipe for Potato Salad
This is a Potato Salad Recipe made with Ground Beef

Recipe for Potatoes Paprika
This ecipe uses Idaho Potatoes and Heavy Cream

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These Cookies are made with potato chips!

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The only comprehensive resource for home gardeners and commercial potato growers, The Complete Book of Potatoes has everything a gardener or commercial potato grower needs to successfully grow the best, disease resistant potatoes for North American gardens.

Includes practical as well as technical information about the potato plant, its origin, conventional and organic production techniques, pest management, and storage practices.

The Complete Book of Potatoes:
What Every Grower and Gardener Needs to Know