Potatoes (Solanum tuberoso) are part of the Nightshade family that includes Tomatoes. The origin of this basic food is high in the Andes mountains, in Peru, around lake Titicaca. Since 8,000BC , the high nutritional content of this tuber has supported the indigenous people of the Inca empire. When the Spanish conquistadors took over Peru, they discovered potatoes and then introduced them to Europe. Today, the potatoe is the fourth largest food crop behind Rice, Wheat, Maize.
China, India, Russia and Ukraine are the big global producers of this root crop but it is widely grown all over the planet. Potatoes are a tuber and basically starch. That is how I thought about it. Really, with the skins on, these roots are so healthy you can live on them. Growing potatoes is easier than growing wheat.
In Ireland, where peasants rented land from the wealthy landowners, “no crop produced more food per acre, demanded less cultivation and stored as easily as the potato” SOURCE: BBC Travel online article in Culinary Roots series…
“Potatoes contain nearly every important vitamins and nutrients, except vitamin A and D …”.
Chris Dixon’s database (Healthy Edibles) of how foods can be used as a medicine (For Education Purposes Only) says this:
aid skin & kidney health, bone strength, muscle & nerve function; help manage high blood pressure; Baked potato with skin also helps reduce anxiety. Potato starch is gluten free & safe for those with celiac disease. Caution: do not eat a potato if it is green in places or has sprouts, as the poison solanine is present; discard & wash hands after handling the potato. Cooking & eating the potato will result in gastrointetestinal illness at least, & eating enough of these potatoes can cause death. Caution:eating potato chips can increase osteoarthritis symptoms. Caution: Potatoes can promote inflammatory conditions in some people, such as arthritisis.
The Great Famine in Ireland caused by too few varieties of the same crop, points to the risks from lack of diversity. Today, the mainstream varieties used are being crossed with genes from wild potatoe relatives in Peru, to breed resistance and adaptability. There are 5,000 varieties just in Peru. That’s diversity ! Canadians eat a lot of potatoes (177 pounds), the most of any vegetable. The majority as french fries or potato chips.