No longer just an afterthought of what to serve with the roast beef, the humble potato is getting recognition for the magnificent role it has played in the history of civilization.
The Humble Beginnings
Slicing their way through the jungles of South America, Spanish explorers came to the Andes Mountains, the longest mountain range in the world.
It was there that these explorers ‘discovered’ an ancient food new to them, but which had been cultivated among the Incas since 8,000 BC in what is now modern-day Peru.
This food dug from the earth was a vital part of the Inca Indians’ nutrition.
It was the potato.
The Rise of Western Civilization
After conquering the Inca Empire, the Spanish explorers returned home in ships loaded with this mysterious new vegetable.
At first Europeans resisted adopting this culinary find, thinking it might be poisonous.
Like anything new it took some getting used to.
Eventually the potato became a mainstay of supper tables across Europe.
The humble spud is credited with the population growth and the overall health of Europe.
Some historians even credit the potato with the rise of Western civilization.
Potatoes, rich with vitamins and minerals, helped end many of the frequent famines in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
And potatoes pack a powerful health punch. Loaded with starch, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber these earthy vegetables are full of potassium, and B vitamins.
One medium-sized potato has just 110 calories and nearly half your daily value of Vitamin C.
The Potato In North America
The British governor of the Bahamas gifted the American colonies with a box of potatoes, and, well, we know the rest of this history.
From the mountains of South America to the palaces and place settings of the royals and the peasants of Europe, then back across the Atlantic to the United States it is the potato which has graced our tables and filled our bellies with goodness.
Where would we be without our fries and chips, au gratins and boiled, mashed and baked potatoes? What would a Shepherd’s pie be like without its creamy blanket? Or breakfast without hash browns?
Make the humble potato a part of your meal time.