How did a potato revolutionize the world?
In 1957, Roland Barthes, a French philosopher, and literary critic published a collection of his essays titled Methodologies. In which he wrote that the crop of chips (potato) comes from the American continent, and is the basic mark of “patriotism” for “French”.
Just a century ago, a potato disease caused a famine in Ireland, which had reduced its population within a few years.
The effects of this divisiveness spanned decades of social and economic life. Today the major potato producing countries worldwide are China, India, Russia, and Ukraine respectively.
However, despite their deep and deep commitment to the potatoes of these countries, none of them can claim that the potato crop originated in that country.
The simple homeland of potatoes from this plain is the Andes, a region of South America where it was used for domestic use more than eight thousand years ago. After a long, time it reached Europe in the middle of the fifteenth century, traveling from west to north and back to the continental United States and beyond.
Feeding the People
Rebecca Earle’s story of the global potato travels has been the subject of her publication book, Feeding the People: The Politics of the Potato (Feeding the People: The Politics of Potato). In which she says that in the Andes her Despite being born, it is a hugely successful global diet. She writes that ‘it is born in every part of the world, and everywhere exaggerated it is considered’ food ‘. For the rest of the world outside the Andes, potatoes will not be local but the feel is local. Earl calls it the most successful immigrant because its origin has become alien to farmers and eaters alike.
Now the claim of the American and Italian peasants is as strong as that of any Peruvian citizen, as it has now become part of the diet of the people living everywhere. After the potato, rice, wheat, and maize is the world’s fourth and non-grain first major agricultural species.
Did this crop of Andes convince the world completely take over in just a few centuries?
The reason for this extraordinary absorption of potatoes is due to its poor nutrition. Productivity in comparison to other agricultural commodities. The ability to remain invisible to recipients of wars and leases due to underground growth. Moreover, to men and women working in the fields. As well as in friendships.
The best place to understand the origin of potatoes is the International Potato Center (CIP). Where every aspect of potato researched. The center is located on the outskirts of Lima, the capital of Peru. Where thousands of potato samples have been collected. “The largest genetic diversity is found in the Andes, but here you will find varieties from Chile to the United States,” says Renee Gomez, senior curator of gene banks at CIP. They say the potatoes first used indoors near Lake Titicaca in the Andes, a thousand kilometers southeast of Lima.
After that, it became popular here and became an important part of the daily diet of the locals. In their era, a special type of diet was prepared by drying it, which preserved for many years and even decades.
Outside the United States
After the Spanish invasion in 1253, their rule ended, but potato cultivation continued.
The invaders also brought potatoes from other commodities, such as tomatoes, avocado, and corn, across the Atlantic. Historians call it the Great Colombian Exchange or the Great Colombian Exchange. It was the first time potatoes traveled outside the United States.
These species transported to the Andes had difficulty integrating with Spain and other parts of Europe. In the region of Equatorial, where potatoes made domestic. The daytime grows short, meaning it receives twelve hours of continuous sunshine, says evolutionary geneticist Herman A. Birbino Rao.
The long summer days of European summer confused the potatoes, so despite the favorable conditions, they could not grow. Instead, it sprouted well before the winter began in the fall. That is why its crop did not succeed in the first few decades of its arrival in Europe. Then came a more favorable season of potatoes in Ireland, where the cold but empty autumn gave it a chance to ripen.
Here the potato crop brought from Spain in the 1580s. It took a century for farmers to prepare the kind of potatoes that sown at the beginning of summer, adapted to local climatic conditions. Nevertheless, eventually, potatoes became the kind that became an important crop for the farmers in the future.
Potatoes proved to be valuable for the farmers as they were getting more nutrition per hectare. Especially in Ireland, where farms used to lease land. Property owners increased their fees, which forced farmers to harvest more than a little land.
Economist James Lang writes in his book ‘Notes of a Potato Watcher’ that no crop could produce more than an acre of potato, then it was easier to cultivate and store. Potatoes contain all the nutrients except vitamin A and D. Due to the essential properties of life no other sex can withstand potatoes. Vitamin A and D are also available if we eat potatoes in milk or by-products, so you have a nutritious basic diet.
Then for every 100 grams of potatoes, you also get 2 grams of protein. According to some estimates in Ireland in the early 1600s, eating five and a half kilograms of potatoes a day was enough to meet all nutritional needs. Lang writes that potatoes came from Ireland to Britain and then northern Europe. In 1650, it began to found in Germany, Prussia, Poland in 1740 and Russia in 1840. He writes that in the days of the war, soldiers and tax collectors saw their share of the commodity, received their share from the peasants or plundered their stock.
However, rarely did they look under the potato crop under the soil, and the farmers used to extract the potatoes as needed and extinguish the stomach fire. This feature of potatoes also came in the eyes of the princes and military strategists. King Frederick the Great of Prussia issued a decree on the cultivation of potatoes so that people could have food in case of enemy invasion.
According to a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture. Other countries followed suit and became the source of potato food in Europe during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s. In his 1999 article, Potato historian William McNeil writes that potatoes became a valuable crop in the war of times. According to him, every military campaign that began in Europe after 1560 increased the area under potato cultivation. In addition, the war continued until World War II.
Nutrition and Strength
In just a few centuries, potatoes became a major crop in Europe and the world economy. For decades, food historians have been explaining the popularity and spread of potatoes as the reason for the long-suffering people who knew about potatoes as food.
However, Earl disagrees.
She says the popularity of potato popping in Europe goes to farmers. Amra did not discover it, though she was well aware of its nutritional properties. They knew how important it was for the people of the state to be healthy for the survival of a state. In this way, they understood the relationship between potatoes and power. Earl Sinha, in his 2018 essay, Promotion of Potatoes in Eighteenth-Century Europe, writes that the cultivation of healthy food had gained fundamental importance for patriotism and monarchy in Europe. Therefore, Amra’s interest in potatoes was not due to her new crop. However, to understand the good relationship between European rulers and the direct relationship between the states. In this case, there is no substitute for potatoes.
Adam Smith writes in ‘The Wealth of Nations’ that the food obtained from a potato field is better than the food obtained from wheat fields. No other agricultural species can compete with potatoes in nutrition, nor can it be more suitable for the human body. ‘
They are right in their analysis. However, in Europe, potatoes promoted not by the rich but by the growers. The question that arises here is how Smith and his contemporaries compare nutrition. In the eighteenth century, scientists did not agree on the amount of vitamins, proteins, and salts in the diet. She says, ‘At that time, they were just saying look at the potato eaters. They appear to be more relaxed, deficient body owners and cheeky than other commodity eaters.
According to the journal ‘Quarterly Journal of Economics’, the height of potato eaters recorded to increase by one and a half inches. An economic study reveals that French soldiers born after 1700 who ate potatoes were taller than others were. In the same document, it claimed that the population of Europe and Asia also increased rapidly after the spread of potatoes.
According to researchers, the potato was the cause of a quarter of the world’s population growth between 1700 and 1900. McNeil writes: “The nutritional needs of the growing population have met with great resilience. Thus enabled European nations to dominate the world between 1750 and 1950.
Return to the Andes
The indiscriminate cultivation of potatoes continued until an illness from 1845 to 1849 caused a great famine to inflict on Ireland. On the one hand, the potato crop destroyed while on the other hand, the British government’s inaction made the situation worse. The government had left the situation at the mercy of the market rather than any relief action. It killed at least a million people in Ireland, migrating to the United States and over two million other countries. Thus within a few years, the population of the country fell to half.
The famine drew people’s attention to the fact that 80% of the country’s energy consumed with potatoes. Other crops were extremely scarce. Such dependence on the same-sex increased the risk of disease in potatoes. Because the genetic diversity of potatoes eliminated due to domestication. Although there was some work in the eighteenth century on mixing different types of potatoes from the Andes and Chile, but on a limited scale.
Various projects implemented for the food security of the farmers. “One way was to combine different varieties of wild potatoes into the potato growers,” writes Berbino. Today’s 151 wild varieties of potato still found in the Andes. Even in the early twentieth century, scientists combined different varieties of domestic and wild potatoes to maintain their potato properties while keeping them potent against diseases. Many types of potatoes grown today have similar experiences. These wild varieties of potatoes can also help counteract the effects of changing temperature and climate.
A recent study reveals that by 2085, carbon dioxide emissions could reduce potato production by 26%. Genetic reserves of wild potato species can provide us with properties that are resistant to fog, drought and temperature rise.
Fries are a traditional dish in Belgium, eaten with mayonnaise. Belgian people began eating potato fries instead of fried fish in 1680 when the Moose River froze due to severe cold. Agricultural experts from Europe, America and most recently Asia worked on similar potato varieties. Of the twenty major producers of potato in the world, the United States, Peru and Brazil working on potatoes for centuries. However, now other countries have developed their varieties.
In China, the government is increasingly trying to make potatoes part of the basic food of the people. For this, she uses the same methods that European rulers used in the eighteenth century. To convince people of the benefits of potatoes through the media, popular figures, and general science books. In India too, potato used in a thousand ways. Now it is very difficult for an Indian farmer to believe that potato is a foreign crop.
This universal allocation of potatoes has made the possibilities limitless.