This Spud’s For You!

Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson September 19, 2017 11:19

potatoes-in-hand

Along with the harvest of grains, beets and soybeans comes the mighty potato!  The Northern Plains of North Dakota and Minnesota is the third largest potato growing region in the country with over 250 growers producing over 40 million hundredweight of potatoes a year.  We here in the Red River Valley are famous for our Red Potatoes, french fry plants , potato chip plants, a number of refrigerated product producers and over sixty certified seed growers.  Yes, we love our spuds!

 

But the potato had to cross some hurdles in order to be recognized as a great source of nutrition.  The Spanish Conquistadors in their quest to conquer Peru in 1536 discovered potatoes and brought them to Europe, but the French refused to accept this vegetable.  They referred to the tuber as “hog feed” and believed that it caused leprosy.  It was a French pharmacist by the name of Antoine-Augustin Parmentier who after eating potatoes in prison (and surviving), made it his mission to prove that the vegetable was worthy.  He tried some interesting promotional stunts like serving dishes made with potatoes to celebrities and heavily guarding his potato patch so folks would think they were worth stealing.  He instructed his guards to allow the thefts, and to accept bribes of any amount.  Those thefts worked to an extent, but it wasn’t until Madame Merigot published a potato cookbook about 40 years later that this vegetable finally took hold in France.

 

Today potatoes are grown in all 50 states of the USA and in approximately 125 countries in the world.  The average American eats about 124 pounds of potatoes per year while Germans eat about double that amount.  It’s the third most important food crop in the world after rice and wheat in terms of human consumption.  People worldwide (in excess of one billion) eat potatoes, and global crop production surpasses 300 million metric tons.

 

There are more than 4,000 varieties of native potatoes that are found primarily in the Andes, and there are also over 180 wild potato species.  These wild types, although too bitter to eat, have an important biodiversity that includes natural resistance to pests, diseases, and climatic conditions.

 

The International Potato Center which goes by its Spanish acronym CIP, was founded in 1971 and now maintains the largest collection of potatoes in the world.  This collection includes more than 7,000 acquisitions of native, wild, and improved varieties.  CIP’s genebank makes sure these varieties are both securely preserved for the long-term and also available for use by farmers, breeders, and researchers.

 

I found a catchy little tune that celebrates this vegetable first discovered in the mid-1500s.  Long live the potato!

 

-Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team

References:

https://www.farmersalmanac.com/food/2017/08/28/parmentier-made-potatoes-popular/

https://www.potatoegoodness.com/potato-fun-facts-history/

https://idahopotatomuseum.com/potato-facts/

http://nppga.org/

https://cipotato.org/potato/facts/

 

Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson September 19, 2017 11:19
Write a comment

1 Comment

  1. Fred September 21, 08:40

    Please UNSubscribe me ASAP.

    We are not farmers and/but love to EAT potatoes; just no into commercial growing of them

    Reply to this comment
View comments

Write a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*