The infestation ruined up to one-half of the potato crop that year, and about three-quarters of the crop over the next seven years.Because the tenant farmers of Ireland—then ruled as a colony of Great Britain—relied heavily on the potato as a source of food, the infestation had a catastrophic impact on Ireland and its population.Ireland in the 1800s.When the crops began to fail in 1845, as a result of P. infestans infection, Irish leaders in Dublin petitioned Queen Victoria and Parliament to act—and, initially, they did, repealing the so-called “Corn Laws” and their tariffs on grain, which made food such as corn and bread prohibitively expensive.“The Great Hunger: What was the Irish potato famine?“Exports in Famine Times.” Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum.“Irish Famine Memorials.” IrishFamineMemorials.com.“Mournful, Angry Views of Ireland’s Famine: A Review of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, in Hamden.” New York Times.
How the Potato Changed the World
The flowers were part of an attempt to persuade French farmers to plant and French diners to eat this strange new species.If the head of a wheat or rice plant grows too big, the plant will fall over, with fatal results.Growing underground, tubers are not limited by the rest of the plant.Not only did the Columbian Exchange carry the potato across the Atlantic, it also brought the world’s first intensive fertilizer: Peruvian guano.And when potatoes fell to the attack of another import, the Colorado potato beetle, panicked farmers turned to the first artificial pesticide: a form of arsenic.disseminator of the potato in Europe.Millions of people.Destroying the statue was a crime against art, not history: Drake almost certainly did not introduce the potato to Europe.The mountain cultures differed strikingly from one another, but all were nourished by tuber and root crops, the potato most important.Cooking often breaks down such chemical defenses, but solanine and tomatine are unaffected by heat.Most ubiquitous was chuño, which is made by spreading potatoes outside to freeze on cold nights, then thawing them in the morning sun.The potato Andeans roasted before contact with Europeans was not the modern spud; they cultivated different varieties at different altitudes.Most people in a village planted a few basic types, but most everyone also planted others to have a variety of tastes.The range of potatoes in a single Andean field, Zimmerer observed, “exceeds the diversity of nine-tenths of the potato crop of the entire United States.” As a result, the Andean potato is less a single identifiable species than a bubbling stew of related genetic entities.News of the new food spread rapidly.Within three decades, Spanish farmers as far away as the Canary Islands were exporting potatoes to France and the Netherlands (which were then part of the Spanish empire).Parmentier’s timing was good.In exalting the potato, Parmentier unwittingly changed it.The effects of this transformation were so striking that any general history of Europe without an entry in its index for S. tuberosum should be ignored.Every year, many farmers left fallow as much as half of their grain land, to rest the soil and fight weeds (which were plowed under in summer).Because potatoes were so productive, the effective result, in terms of calories, was to double Europe’s food supply.By the end of the 18th century, potatoes had become in much of Europe what they were in the Andes—a staple.At long last, the continent could produce its own dinner.In 40 years, Peru exported about 13 million tons of it, the great majority dug under ghastly working conditions by slaves from China.Seize the guano islands!“A nation’s fertility, which was set by the soil’s natural bounds, inevitably shaped national economic success.” In just a few years, agriculture in Europe and the United States had become as dependent on high-intensity fertilizer as transportation is today on petroleum—a dependency it has not shaken since.Guano set the template for modern agriculture.To maximize crop yields, farmers plant ever-larger fields with a single crop—industrial monoculture, as it is called.On average, European peasants ate less per day than hunting-and-gathering societies in Africa or the Amazon.P.
infestans preys on species in the nightshade family, especially potatoes and tomatoes.Scientists believe that it originated in Peru.The next year was worse, as was the year after that.A similar famine in the United States today would kill almost 40 million people.Within a decade, two million more had fled Ireland, almost three-quarters of them to the United States.As late as the 1960s, Ireland’s population was half what it had been in 1840.Despite its ghastly outcome, P. infestans may be less important in the long run than another imported species: Leptinotarsa decemlineata, the Colorado potato beetle.For millennia the potato beetle had made do with the buffalo bur scattered through the Mexican hills.Because growers planted just a few varieties of a single species, pests like the beetle and the blight had a narrower range of natural defenses to overcome.If arsenic killed potato beetles, why not try it on other pests?If Paris green worked, why not try other chemicals for other agricultural problems?Spraying potatoes with Paris green, then copper sulfate would take care of both the beetle and the blight.The modern pesticide industry had begun.The beetle adapted.By the mid-1980s, a new pesticide in the eastern United States was good for about a single planting.In 2009, potato blight wiped out most of the tomatoes and potatoes on the East Coast of the United States.More specifically, he said blight had arrived on tomato seedlings sold in big-box stores.
Potato Farmers Grapple With Climate Change's Impact On Nitrogen
The light, sandy soil of Wisconsin’s Central Sands region is well-suited for growing potatoes — a root crop that needs an ample supply of water, but is prone to rot and disease.A wetter and warmer Wisconsin has further exacerbated potato farming’s greatest risk to the environment and human health: nitrogen leaking into the groundwater supply.Farmers and experts alike know the risks of nitrogen contamination — and they also know it's almost impossible to grow an economically competitive potato crop in the region's soil without contributing some level of water pollution.2012 was a dry, hot year and potatoes’ need for roughly 20 inches of water during the growing season meant a heavier reliance on irrigation that stressed the region's lakes and rivers.It's like taking a bath with the plug pulled — water washes through the sandy soil and potatoes' shallow root system into the groundwater table, which can be only 10 feet below the surface in some areas.While nitrate runoff from all forms of agriculture is also tied to increases in algal blooms in surface water and the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, in the Central Sands, the primary concern falls on groundwater contamination.That coupled with a higher frequency of heavy rainfall events, increased precipitation outside of summer and longer growing seasons, and all of a sudden it's getting more difficult to keep the nitrogen in the soil, Kucharik said. .
7 Surprising Benefits of Purple Potatoes
Purple potatoes are a tasty way to add a pop of color to your plate while enjoying a serving of health benefits.Purple potatoes have a nutrient content similar to that of other varieties of potatoes in the Solanum tuberosum family, though their mineral content can vary depending on the soil in which they were grown ( 1 , 2, 3).A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked potato with the skin provides ( 4 ): Calories: 87.20 grams Fiber: 3.3 grams.less than 1 gram Manganese: 6% of the Daily Value (DV).In addition, a serving of potatoes provides 3 grams of fiber, from both the flesh and skin, and they’re naturally low in sodium (3, 4 ).summary All potatoes, including purple potatoes, are quite nutritious and provide a range of nutrients in both their skin and flesh.While all potato varieties impact blood sugar levels because of their carbohydrate content, purple potatoes may exert less of an effect than other types due to their high concentration of polyphenol plant compounds.While the starch in purple potatoes increases blood sugar, it does so to less of an extent than the starch in yellow or white varieties.In addition to their high anthocyanin content, purple potatoes pack other antioxidants common to all types of potatoes, including ( 9 ): vitamin C.May improve your blood pressure Eating purple potatoes may promote blood vessel and blood pressure health.This may partly be due to their higher potassium content, as this nutrient helps reduce blood pressure, but their antioxidant content likely plays a role, too.summary Purple potatoes have been found to improve blood pressure.summary Some of the compounds in purple potatoes may slow the growth of — or even kill — certain cancer cells.For example, a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) potato with the skin cooked in the microwave contains 3.3 grams of fiber, while a potato of the same size boiled without the skin has 1.8 grams ( 16 ).Part of the starch in purple (and all) potatoes is a type of fiber called resistant starch.To reap the greatest fiber benefits, eat them with the skin on and cook them ahead of time, eating them chilled, such as in a salad.summary Boil, mash, or roast purple potatoes just like you would any other light-fleshed variety. .
How the humble potato changed the world
What made the potato so irresistible was its unrivalled nutritional value, its relative easiness to cultivate as compared to some major cereals, its ability to easily navigate wars and tax censuses due to its knack for hiding underground from collectors, and in particular, its camaraderie with working men and women in the fields.A good place to understand its origins is the Centro Internacional de la Papa (CIP), or International Potato Center, a research-for-development centre that researches and promotes all things potato-related.“The Andes is where the biggest genetic diversity lies, but you can find potatoes from Chile to the United States,” René Gómez, senior curator at the CIP genebank, told me there. .
Carbs in Potatoes: How Do They Affect Blood Sugar?
This makes your blood sugar spike quickly.Glycemic Index To understand how a complex carbohydrate-rich food like a potato acts in your body, you need to know its glycemic index (GI).The higher a food’s number, the faster it raises your blood sugar level.Your body digests foods that rate high on the scale faster than low ones.Low GI foods are 55 or below. .