Do you know where the potato first originated from? The Potato holds a great deal of history in many different countries. The potato was first cultivated in South America between three and seven thousand years ago. The genetic patterns of potato distribution indicate that the potato probably originated in the mountainous west-central region of the continent.
The early Spanish chroniclers noted that the Incas learned to preserve the potato for storage by dehydrating and mashing potatoes into a substance called chuñu. The Incas also thought potatoes made childbirth easier and used it to treat injuries, along with broken bones to promote healing. When the potato arrived in Spain in 1570, the Spanish farmers mostly used the potato as food for the livestock.
By 1600, the potato had entered numerous countries, but did not receive a warm welcome. In Europe, the potato was considered poisonous and evil. Frederick the Great of Prussia saw the potential to help feed his nation, but the citizens already had their minds made up that the potato was disgusting and very distasteful. They did not want to be told what to eat.
After that in 1774, Frederick the Great ordered for his subjects to grow potatoes as protection against famine. The citizens still refused to eat the potato if their dogs would not even eat them so Frederick the Great was back to square one. Frederick then decided to plant a royal field of potato plants and stationed a heavy guard to protect this field from thieves. Back then, peasants would try to steal anything worth guarding so they began to start stealing the potatoes from Frederick’s royal field for their home gardens. Frederick ordered the guards to go easy on the attentiveness at night, allowing the locals to steal the crop for their gardens. Frederick then knew his plan was working. With this trickery began the potatoes evolution to Germany’s #1 food item.
Frederick the Great passed away on August 17, 1786 in Potsdam, Germany. Frederick lies buried at Park Sanssouci, and his grave is nothing like you would imagine a king’s memorial. His grave is simple and covered with potatoes instead of flowers by visitors because after all he did bring the potato to Prussia.
Most countries had the impression that potatoes were distasteful, but the people of Ireland embraced the new crop more passionately than all of the other countries since the Incas. The potato in Ireland was simply the only food along with milk. The two combined provided all essential nutrients the locals needed. By the early 1840’s, almost one half of the Irish population had become dependent on the potato.
Today, the potato is one of the most common food items all over the world. There are now over a thousand different types of potatoes, and they are the world’s fourth-largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize. Wow, how times have changed!