Potato papa or Solanum tuberosum,what is the fame of the Potato except Potato famines and more...
- Basic Botanical Data of Potato.
- What is a potato?.
- Origin and Dissemination of Patato.
- Potato:the Archeology and History.
- Today's Potato.
- Parts of Patato:Introduction.
- Varieties of Potato.
- Food value of Patato.
- Constituents of Potato.
- Nutritional Value and Phytochemicals of Potato.
- Health benefits and concerns of Potato.
- Functions,Medicinal Uses of Potato.
- Dosage and Administration of Potato.
- Modern Researches of Potato.
- Research Update:Potato or Solanum tuberosum L.
Potato:the Archeology and History.:
Potato and ancient Origin
Originated in the highlands of South America where it has been consumed for more than 8,000 years.
The Spanish brought potatoes back to plant in Europe in the late 16th century mostly as a botanical curiosity.
By the 19th century it had spread throughout Europe because the potato provided cheap and abundant food for the workers of the industrial revolution.
Before 6000 BCE, the first wild potatoes were being collected from high plateaus that stretched between Cusco and Lake Titicaca in South America. Of the eight different species of potato in existence, it is known that the Andean farmers recognized as many as 5,000 different varieties. Some farmers today still grow up to forty-five different varieties in their tiny fields along the steep mountainsides. Typically for a staple food, there are more than 1,000 different names for the potato in the Quechua language alone.
These first tubers were small, misshapen, and knobbly, of many colours, and so bitter that special techniques were employed to make them edible. The truly amazing thing is that they even bothered to try! Through selection and inbreeding, that inedible tuber is now a vital staple food and has become the fourth most important world food crop after wheat, maize, and rice. Some potatoes can be found growing as high as 13,000 feet and, obviously, very resistant to frost. Others are better adapted to warmer and drier climates.
The shape and colour of the potato varies enormously from yellow, round and twisted, to purple, long and straight. However, 80% of all the potatoes grown in the US and Canada stem from just six varieties of only one species, Solanum tuberosum. Scientists at Peru's International Potato Center are working feverishly to save, from extinction, as many as they can of the small, genetically valuable, Andean potatoes. Many of their farmers are being pressured into planting higher-yield modern varieties and are not cultivating the older varieties much anymore. A major part of the work at the Potato Center is to help adapt the potato cultivation to the lower, humid zones of the tropics.
The Potato is nearly related to the Nightshades, belonging to the same genus, Solanum. Its flowers are very similar in form, but larger and paler in colour than those of Solanum Dulcamara.
The stalks, leaves and green berries possess the narcotic and poisonous properties of the Nightshades, but the tubers we eat (which are not the root, but mere enlargements of underground stems, shortened and thickened, in which starch is stored up for the future use of the plant), not being acted on by light, do not develop the poisonous properties contained by that part of the plant above ground. The influence of light on the tubers can be observed if in spring-time young green potatoes are exposed to daylight, when it will be found that they become poisonous and have a disagreeable taste.
The Potato was introduced into Europe early in the sixteenth century, being brought to Spain from Peru, and was first brought into England in 1586 from North America, the colonists sent out by Sir Walter Raleigh bringing it back with them from Virginia.
Gerard, in his Herbal published in 1597, gives a figure of the Potato, under the name of 'Potato of Virginia' - to distinguish it from the Sweet Potato. The Herbal contains a portrait of himself on the frontispiece holding in his hand a spray of the Potato plant with flowers and berries.
Though Sir Walter Raleigh was the first to plant the Potato, on his estate at Youghall, near Cork, it is said that he knew so little about it that he tried to eat the berries, and on discovering their noxious character, ordered the plants to be rooted out. It is said that the gardener in doing so, first learnt the value of their wholesome tubers.
From Ireland, the Potato was soon after carried into Lancashire, but for some time Potatoes were only grown as a delicacy for the epicure, not as food for the people. Both Gerard and Parkinson refer to them in this manner. The Puritans opposed their cultivation, because no mention of them could be found in the Bible, and it was not until the middle of the eighteenth century that potatoes became common in this country as a vegetable. As late as 1716, Bradley, in his Historia Plantarum Succulentarum, speaks of them as 'inferior to skirrets and radishes.'
The Potato is indigenous in various parts of South America, plants in a wild state having been found on the Peruvian coast, as well as on the sterile mountains of Central Chile and Buenos Aires. The Spaniards are believed to have first brought it to Europe, from Quito, in the early part of the sixteenth century. It afterwards found its way into Italy, and from thence it was carried to Mons, in Belgium, by one of the attendants of the Pope's legate. In 1598 it was sent from Mons to the celebrated botanist Clusius at Vienna, who states that in a short time it spread rapidly throughout Germany.
In the time of James I, potatoes cost 2s. a pound, and are mentioned in 1619 among the articles provided for the royal household. In 1633, when their valuable properties had become more generally known, they were noticed by the Royal Society, and measures were taken to encourage their cultivation in case of famine; but it was not till nearly a century after this that they were grown to any extent in England. In 1725 they were introduced into Scotland and cultivated with much success, first in gardens, and afterwards (about 1760), when they had become plentiful, in the open fields.
On the Continent, the adoption of the Potato as a vegetable met with considerable prejudice, and it did not become a general article of food for some time after it was in general use here. Gerard says: 'Bauhine saith that he heard that the use of these roots was forbidden in Burgundy for that they were persuaded the too frequent use of them caused the leprosie' - a belief without any foundation, for the disease is now confined to countries where the Potato is not grown, and its antiscorbutic properties have been proved.
Linnaeus for some time objected to the use of the Potato on account of its connexion with the Deadly Nightshade and Bittersweet. Solanine, the poisonous active principle contained in the stalks, leaves and unripe fruit, is very powerful, and has not yet been fully investigated. It is also present in the peel of the tuber, but is dissipated and rendered inert when the whole potato is boiled and steamed, and is decomposed by baking.
Irish Potato History
By 1650 potatoes were the staple food of Ireland, and they began to replace wheat as the major crop elsewhere in Europe, being used to feed both people and animals. The first mention of potatoes appearing in North America comes from Irish settlers in Londonderry, New Hampshire during 1719.
Interestingly Ireland was one of the first European countries to really adopt the potato and it became an established crop by the early 17th century. Whereas it took another 100 years before it became established in Britain.
The potato was such an important food to the Irish that it is permanently associated with them today in the popular imagination, due to a single devastating event:the Irish potato famine. In the 1840s there was a major outbreak of potato blight, which swept through Europe, wiping out the potato crop in many countries. The Irish economy was so dependent on a single variety of potatoes as a staple at this time that the event led to terrible disease, death, famine, and subsequently emigration by many of the survivors to areas where there was more food. The blight marks an important, though tragic, point in Irish history.
The rapidly expanding agrarian population became increasingly dependent on the potato. There was a very severe famine in 1740-41 and 14 full or partial potato famines between 1816 and 1842, mostly weather related.
The great famine of 1845 - 1847 was due to potato blight and devastated the country. The population fell from 8.2m in 1840 to 4.4m in 1911.
Potato Population Boom:
When the European diet expanded to include potatoes, not only were farmers able to produce much more food, they also gained protection against the catastrophe of a grain crop failure and periodic population checks caused by famine. Highly nutritious potatoes also helped mitigate the effects of such diseases as scurvy, tuberculosis, measles and dysentery. The higher birth rates and lower mortality rates potatoes encouraged led to a tremendous population explosion wherever the potato traveled, particularly in Europe, the US and the British Empire.
Historians debate whether the potato was primarily a cause or an effect of the huge population boom in industrial-era England and Wales. Prior to 1800, the English diet had consisted primarily of meat, supplemented by bread, butter and cheese. Few vegetables were consumed, most vegetables being regarded as nutritionally worthless and potentially harmful. This view began to change gradually in the late 1700s. At the same time as the populations of London, Liverpool and Manchester were rapidly increasing, the potato was enjoying unprecedented popularity among farmers and urban workers. The Industrial Revolution was drawing an ever increasing percentage of the populace into crowded cities, where only the richest could afford homes with ovens or coal storage rooms, and people were working 12-16 hour days which left them with little time or energy to prepare food. High yielding, easily prepared potato crops were the obvious solution to England's food problems. Not insignificantly, the English were also rapidly acquiring a taste for potatoes, as is evidenced by the tuber's increasing popularity in recipe books from the time. Hot potato vendors and merchants selling fish and chips wrapped in paper horns became ubiquitous features of city life. Between 1801 and 1851, England and Wales experienced an unprecedented population explosion, their combined population doubling to almost 18 million.
Before the widespread adoption of the potato, France managed to produce just enough grain to feed itself each year, provided nothing went wrong, but something usually did. The precariousness of the food supply discouraged French farmers from experimenting with new crops or new farming techniques, as they couldn't afford any failures. On top of hundreds of local famines, there were at least 40 outbreaks of serious, nationwide famine between 1500 and 1800. The benefits of the potato, which yielded more food per acre than wheat and allowed farmers to cultivate a greater variety of crops for greater insurance against crop failure, were obvious wherever it was adopted. The potato insinuated itself into the French diet in the form of soups, boiled potatoes and pommes-frites. The fairly sudden shift towards potato cultivation in the early years of the French Revolution allowed a nation that had traditionally hovered on the brink of starvation in times of stability and peace to expand its population during a decades-long period of constant political upheaval and warfare. The uncertainly of food supply during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, combined with the tendency of above-ground crops to be destroyed by soldiers, encouraged France's allies and enemies to embrace the tuber as well; by the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the potato had become a staple food in the diets of most Europeans.
The most dramatic example of the potato's potential to alter population patterns occurred in Ireland, where the potato had become a staple by 1800. The Irish population doubled to eight million between 1780 and 1841,this, without any significant expansion of industry or reform of agricultural techniques beyond the widespread cultivation of the potato. Though Irish landholding practices were primitive in comparison with those of England, the potato's high yields allowed even the poorest farmers to produce more healthy food than they needed with scarcely any investment or hard labor. Even children could easily plant, harvest and cook potatoes, which of course required no threshing, curing or grinding. The abundance provided by potatoes greatly decreased infant mortality and encouraged early marriage. Accounts of Irish society recorded by contemporary visitors paint the picture of a people as remarkable for their health as for their lack of sophistication at the dinner table, where potatoes typically supplied appetizer, dinner and dessert.
The Irish Potato Famine
Whereas most of their neighbors regarded the potato with suspicion and had to be persuaded to use it by the upper classes, the Irish peasantry embraced the tuber more passionately than anyone since the Incas. The potato was well suited to the Irish the soil and climate, and its high yield suited the most important concern of most Irish farmers: to feed their families.
While the potato was rapidly becoming an important food across Europe, in Ireland it was frequently the only food. Many Irish survived on milk and potatoes alone,the two together provide all essential nutrients,while others subsisted on potatoes and water. By the early 1840s, almost one-half of the Irish population had become entirely dependent upon the potato, specifically on just one or two high-yielding varieties.
The first Europeans encountered the potato in 1537 in what is now Colombia. They belonged to the Spanish forces of Jiminez De Quesada, who entered a village after the inhabitants had fled and found maize, beans, and "truffles", which were described as having a good flavor and a delicacy of the Indians. These "truffles" were potatoes and were promptly introduced into Spain and soon after into Italy, where they did not become a success. This was attributed to their watery, bitter nature; and they could not be successfully grown in the warmer climates. They also had to compete with other newly, more flavourful, tubers of the sweet potato and artichoke.
In 1770, Captain Cook introduced it into Australasia, where it became common fare by the middle of the next century. It is thought that the Spanish introduced the potato to Europe in the 16th century although Sir John Hawkins is reputed to have brought them to England in 1563. Extensive cultivation did not begin until Sir Francis Drake brought more back in 1586 after battling the Spaniards in the Caribbean. Sir Walter Raleigh is thought to have introduced them into Ireland, and later presented some to Elizabeth I. Her cook is said to have discarded the tubers and cooked the leaves, which did not help with its popularity. Except for Ireland, which remains the largest consumer, the potato did not become popular in Britain. In the north of Ireland and Scotland, Protestants would not plant it because it was not mentioned in the Bible; but Catholics dispelled this notion by sprinkling their seed potatoes with holy water and planting them on Good Friday.
Elsewhere in Europe, royal or governmental edicts promoted the cause of the potato. In Sweden, there was such an edict in 1764. In Prussia, Frederick the Great ordered cultivation on a large scale in Silesia and Pomerania. In 1784, Benjamin Thompson, better known as Count Rumford, the famous American scientist, inventor, soldier, and adventurer, entered the service of the Royal Bavarian government to reorganize the workhouse system. The inmates of these "Houses of Industry" were fed as economically as possible on bread and thin gruel. Rumford contrived to make the gruel incredibly cheap by substituting potatoes for the barley being used. Yet, despite the gnawing hunger of the inmates, Rumford had to conceal using potatoes instead of barley by boiling them behind a screen so that the inmates would not reject the gruel.
In England and Germany, potatoes were considered more of a curiosity; while in France, they were believed to cause leprosy and fever. However, Antoine Parmentier, a French scientist and army officer during the Seven Years War, wrote a thesis in 1773 extolling the virtues of the potato, particularly as a famine food. He had eaten the potato as a prisoner of war in Prussia and thought that, if the French court could be persuaded to esteem the potato, all of France would do the same. Amazingly, he not only persuaded the French King, Louis XVI, to accept this tuber, but the queen Marie Antoinette as well, who wore the flowers to decorate her dresses. The potato then became quite fashionable and part of the French cuisine ,and was the beginning for the potato soup now known as Potage Parmentier. By the early 19th century, the potato became a staple in France, with no recordings of any new leprosy or fevers as a result!
Parmentier was also instrumental in creating "French Fries", which were served at a dinner honouring Benjamin Franklin who, duly unimpressed, left it to Thomas Jefferson to introduce them to the White House. America has never been the same since. Additionally, Parmentier established large potato plantations near Paris in order to make them more popular with the people. Evidentally, this worked because the fields were surrounded by ditches and patrolled by guards, causing the common folk to wonder what was so valuable. At night, they came out and began to steal the tubers to plant in their own gardens. Even the French Revolution did not curb the popularity of the potato; and, in 1793, the Royal Tuileries Gardens were turned into fields of potatoes. However, like his prized potato, Parmentier went underground and lived on for many more years.
When and how the potato was introduced into Ireland is not certain, but many agree that the most plausible story is that it was done by Sir Walter Raleigh. He owned estates in County Cork and was mayor of the town of Youghal in 1588 and 1589, which was about the time that the potato was sure to have been established in that country. So successful did it become, that it virtually replaced other cereal and dairy staples by the 18th century. By the time of the famine in 1845, over one-third of the population relied almost exclusively on the potato for their sustenance. In pre-famine Ireland, the average daily consumption of potatoes was between seven and fourteen pounds and that a man, his wife, and four children would easily consume 250 pounds of the vegetable every week.
These extraordinary consumption rates were paralleled by an explosive increase in population between 1780 and 1845, during which time the population almost doubled. This, coupled with Ireland's climate and plentiful rain, produced large crops of potatoes which were propogated from small tubers. These were passed from one household to another, causing the entire national crop to be from just a few original plants. This continual inbreeding made the crops highly susceptible to blight and, ultimately, caused the deaths of more than 1.5 million people with another million emigrating to North America. This tragedy gave the world one of the clearest reasons for the necessity of maintaining a diversity of crops and genes. Yet, food producers have learned little from this event and still maintain huge crops of one variety of food which, once again, will ultimately claim millions of lives.
- 1.Potato papa or Solanum tuberosum,what is the fame of the Potato except Potato famines and more...
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