King Frederick, however, believed that eating potatoes could lower the price of bread and even substitute for cereals in the event of a shortage. In 1770 his soldiers and their Austrian counterparts spent so much time between battles fighting over rations that that phase of the fighting became known as the “Potato War.” Frederick’s troops called his Bohemian invasion of 1778­–1779 the “Potato Campaign.”. Boiled or baked potatoes were cheaper than rye bread, just as nutritious, and did not require a gristmill for grinding. Indeed, it was accepted in European medicine long before they embraced it as a food item. Initially peasants used them to feed livestock, but not themselves. The h2g2 website examines why his approach was less conventional than most: “Why was Friedrich’s interest in his peasants’ diets unusual? Throughout Europe, the most important new food in the 19th century was the potato, which had three major advantages over other foods for the consumer: its lower rate of spoilage, its bulk (which easily satisfied hunger) and its cheapness. They believed it helped childbirth, such was its power. Marxist Friedrich Engels even declared that the potato was the equal of iron for its "historically revolutionary role". This meant that potatoes were barred from large-scale cultivation because the rules allowed only grain to be planted in the open fields. Peasants along the way adopted the crop, which was less often pillaged by marauding armies than above-ground stores of grain. He frequently led his military forces personally and had six horses shot from under him during battle. The spud got a thumbs up from government and began to enter the national consciousness. [19] The Dutch potato-starch industry grew rapidly in the 19th century, especially under the leadership of entrepreneur Willem Albert Scholten (1819–92). Using 60 pounds per bushel, as given by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish novelist and poet (Treasure Island, Kidnapped). William Taubman, political scientist, author; won Pulitzer Prize for biography (2004) for his biography of Nikita Khrushchev. In former European colonies of Africa, potatoes were initially consumed only occasionally, but increased production made them a staple in certain areas. However certain deep-seated prejudices against the crop were set in stone, and it seemed there was no way round them. Sites he contributes to include The Vintage News, Art Knews Magazine and The Hollywood News. "[15], Europeans in South America were aware of the potato by the mid-16th century, but refused to eat the plant. Anything about military history you’ve always wanted to know? When they pulled out potatoes they were probably surprised, but then they finally realized this was far more than a dirty lump coveted by godless peoples on the other side of the world. The Spanish fed chuño to the silver miners who produced vast wealth in the 16th century for the Spanish government. In fact, potatoes alone supply every vital nutrient except calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D. The easily-grown plant has the ability to provide more nutritious food faster on less land than any other food crop, and in almost any habitat.”. Among the varieties of potato being cultivated for the benefit of future generations were, “huaña, a bitter potato variety that resists hail, frost, droughts and excess rain. Contrary to what his father had feared, Frederick proved himself very courageous in battle (with the exception of his first battlefield experience, Mollwitz). [23], In France, at the end of the 16th century, the potato had been introduced to the Franche-Comté, the Vosges of Lorraine and Alsace. Previous Next Next The Incas also saw medical properties in the potato, applying it to injuries. contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. Russians even went so far as to call them “the Devil’s apples,” according to the New World Encyclopedia. History Magazine elaborates on this: “As well as providing starch, an essential component of the diet, potatoes are rich in vitamin C, high in potassium and an excellent source of fiber. Read another story from us: The reality behind the “Little House on the Prairie”. [22] Potatoes were introduced to Tibet by the 19th century through the trade route from India.[28]. In the 1950s–1960s, the growth of the French fry industry in New Brunswick led to a focus on developing varieties for the industry. Eugene Ionesco, Romanian-born dramatist; a leading playwright of the Theater of the Absurd genre (The Bald Soprano, Rhinoceros). U.S. potato production has increased steadily; two-thirds of the crop comes from Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Maine, and potato growers have strengthened their position in both domestic and foreign markets. Naturally, opportunists took their chance to rummage in the dirt, with Frederick no doubt smiling all the while at his own ingenuity. While potatoes are everywhere on dinner plates these days, the idea of eating spuds in Europe is a relatively recent phenomenon. Domestication, spread, and popular usage of the potato in history, "Histoires de légumes" by M. Pitrat and C. Foury, Institut National de la recherche agronomique, 2003, p. 167. Following its introduction into China toward the end of the Ming dynasty, the potato immediately became a delicacy of the imperial family. Farmers then extract the water from the potato, leaving it much lighter and smaller. The exact moment the potato was discovered is unclear, but there is archaeological evidence associating it with ancient Peru. Across most of Northern Europe, where open fields prevailed, potatoes were strictly confined to small garden plots because field agriculture was strictly governed by custom that prescribed seasonal rhythms for plowing, sowing, harvesting and grazing animals on fallow and stubble. By the 1970s, the station's potato research was broader than ever before, but the station and its research programs had changed, as emphasis was placed on serving industry rather than potato farmers in general. The Portuguese introduced potatoes, which they called 'Batata', to India in the early seventeenth century when they cultivated it along the western coast. (Larco Museum Collection) Photo by Pattych CC BY-SA 3.0. The Inca practice of making “chuñu” was long-established. Frederick was sometimes known as the Kartoffelkönig ("potato king"). He modernised many laws to make society more progressive, made Prussia a leading military power in Europe, and is particularly famous for the innovative way in which he revolutionised agriculture with the humble potato. Garry Marshall, actor, director, producer; created Happy Days TV series and its spinoffs. The potato was first domesticated in the region of modern-day southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia[1] between 8000 and 5000 BC. Some felt that the potato plant’s resemblance to plants in the nightshade family hinted that it was the creation of witches or devils.” Tubers are crops that grow at the base of roots, of which the potato is a member (the Latin name for the plant is Solanum tuberosum). [37] During the famine years roughly one million Irish emigrated; this tide was not turned until the 20th century, when Ireland's population stood at less than half of the pre-famine level of 8 million. Basque fishermen from Spain used potatoes as ships' stores for their voyages across the Atlantic in the 16th century, and introduced the tuber to western Ireland, where they landed to dry their cod. Potatoes comprised about 10% of the caloric intake of Europeans. 1982. After being soaked for days and frozen outdoors overnight to remove the bitterness, the potato is dried and can be stored for years.”. History Magazine refers to “meat-loving England,” where “farmers and urban workers regarded potatoes with extreme distaste.” An endorsement from the prestigious Royal Society in 1662 fell on deaf ears. Early colonists in Virginia and the Carolinas may have grown potatoes from seeds or tubers from Spanish ships, but the earliest certain potato crop in North America was in Londonderry, New Hampshire in 1719. Some believe the growth in numbers is down to the injection of potatoes into the food chain. In terms of world civilization, Mankind had known about them since 400 BC. It can be grown in various environments and forms the basis of a plethora of meals. Famines in the early 1770s contributed to its acceptance, as did government policies in several European countries and climate change during the Little Ice Age, when traditional crops in this region did not produce as reliably as before.