Potato Day celebrates this wonderful tuber and all the things you can use it for. What’s your favorite potato treat?
Potatoes were first cultivated by man in Southern Peru and the Northwest regions of Bolivia sometime between 5000 and 8000 BC. From that point forward it has spread all over the globe to become one of the primary staple crops of many cultures. Potatoes are a favorite part of American cuisine, with millions of different forms of preparation to be found. Potatoes are even used to make bread, rolls, and pancakes, and as such can be found in every meal of the day.
The potato is the most important non-cereal crop in the world, and fourth most important crop overall. Only corn, wheat, and rice are more important. In the US, potato products are the second most consumed food overall, trailing only dairy products.
- Potatoes are 80% water.
- In 1995, potato plants were taken into space with the space shuttle Columbia. This marked the first time any food was ever grown in space.
- The world’s largest potato weighed in at 18 pounds, 4 ounces according to the Guinness Book of World Records. That’s enough for 73 portions of medium fries at McDonalds.
- The “French fry” was allegedly served in the U.S. for the first time by Thomas Jefferson at a presidential dinner.
- Potato was first introduced in Europe by Spain in 1536, and the Spanish claim that that Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada was the first to introduce the potato to Europe. Potatoes were not accepted at once in Europe because clerics said they were not mentioned in the bible, while others believed potatoes can cause some diseases.
- The world’s largest potato producing country is China.
- Potatoes are among most environmentally friendly vegetables. They’re easy to grow, and don’t require massive amounts of fertilizer and chemical additives to thrive like many other vegetables do.
- The average American eats 140 pounds of potatoes per year. Germans are among biggest potato lovers as they eat more than 200 pounds of potato per year.
- Potatoes are also used to brew alcoholic beverages such as vodka, potcheen, or akvavit.
- The sweet potato belongs in the same family as morning glories while the white potato belongs to the same group as tomatoes, tobacco, chile pepper, eggplant and the petunia.
- The word potato comes from the Spanish word patata.
- Despite health concerns, potato chips are one of the most common snack foods in the world with billions of packets being consumed every year.
- One of the main causes of the Great Famine in Ireland between 1845 and 1852 was a potato disease known as potato blight. The shortage of potatoes led to the death of around 1 million people who were dependent on them as a food source.