1. The potato (Solanum tuberosum) is the third most important food crop in the world after rice and wheat. Annual production exceeds 320 million tonnes.
  2. China is the world’s biggest producer of potatoes, growing over 70 million tonnes a year.
  3. In the last 40 years the potato has changed from a northern crop, with only 15 percent produced in the south to one in which over half the world’s potato production is in less-developed countries.
  4. Today, more than a billion people worldwide eat potato.
  5. People in Belarus eat the most potatoes overall, consuming 184 kg/year person, way ahead of Russia, at 140 kg/year.
  6. The potato is now grown in about 130 countries of the world and all the states in the USA.
  7. Potatoes were first domesticated in the southeast highlands of South America, in Peru, near the Bolivian border, close to Lake Titicaca, where it has been eaten for more than 8000 years.
  8. There about 5000 different varieties of potato, mostly found in the Andes.
  9. Potatoes can grow from sea level to 4700 meters above sea level, from Chile to Greenland.
  10. At high altitudes, the pre-Inca cultures and later the Incas, bred special frost-tolerate potato plants with high glycoalkaloid (antifreeze!) content. Then they dehydrated and freeze-dried the potatoes, using the freezing night temperatures and the hot sunshine of the daylight hours. The potatoes were then stored for use by their armies and a guard against famine. These potatoes, called chuño, are still processed in the same way and eaten today.
  11. Spanish explorers brought the plant to Europe in the late 16th century as a botanical curiosity. By the 19th century the potato had spread throughout Europe and elsewhere, providing cheap and abundant food.
  12. One hectare of potato can yield two to four times the food value of grain crops.
  13. Potatoes produce more food per unit of water than any other major crop and are up to seven times more efficient in using water than cereals.
  14. Potato has attractive flowers that are five lobed, 2 -3 cm in diameter varying in colour from white to deep bluish purple. Some varieties have a strong, attractive perfume.
  15. Potatoes are usually grown from vegetative propagated material but they can also be grown from seed like any other plant.
  16. A potato is about 80% water and 20% solid.
  17. The potato is a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) along with chili peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and tobacco.
  18. The potato is NOT related to the sweet potato.
  19. Green potato skins and sprouts contain a toxin called solanine that is poisonous.
  20. Potatoes are an excellent source of carbohydrates, with about 23 grams of carbohydrates in a medium sized tuber.
  21. Potatoes are very low in fat, with just 5 percent of the fat content of wheat, and one-fourth the calories of bread. When boiled, they have more protein than maize, and nearly twice the calcium.
  22. Each medium size potato provides about 110 calories, with about 3 grams of protein and no fat.
  23. When boiled, a single medium-sized potato contains about half the daily adult requirement of vitamin C, as well as significant amounts of iron, potassium and zinc.
  24. Potatoes contain substantial amounts of vitamin B.
  25. The Spanish noticed that the sailors who ate potatoes did not suffer from scurvy, because of their vitamin C content, and potatoes were soon a standard supply item on the Spanish ships.
  26. Potatoes can provide the body with more iron than any other vegetable, because the iron in potatoes is easier for the body to absorb.
  27. An average serving of potatoes with the skin on provides about 10 percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber.
  28. Plain boiled or microwaved potatoes are not high in calories and are an idea part of a low-calorie diet. However, just one tablespoon of butter will double the number of calories in a baked potato.
  29. The potato contains valuable supplies of such essential trace elements as manganese, chromium, selenium and molybdenum.
  30. Potatoes can have white, yellow, pink, red, purple and even blue flesh colour. Yellow is primarily due the carotenoids concentrations and the red, purple and blue colour to anthocyanin. Both carotenoids and anthocyanin are antioxidants and are thought to play an important role in preventing cancer
  31. Because of the way that potatoes transfer heat, an oven temperature above 177°C is needed to bake a potato properly.
  32. Potatoes do not absorb salt when they are boiling, so add salt after they have been cooked.
  33. When potatoes first reached Europe, the Scots refused to eat them because they were not mentioned in the Bible (LOL!).
  34. The best French fries (chips) are fried twice. Cut up the potatoes and leave them in cold water for an hour before frying. Dry them thoroughly then drop them into hot oil and cook them slowly until they are soft in the middle. Remove them from the oil, drain them well, and then dump them into really hot oil. This makes the outer surface golden brown and crunchy.
  35. In 1853 potato chips (crisps) were invented by accident in Saratoga Springs, New York when Commodore Vanderbilt complained to his steward that he made his French fries too thick. The steward sliced some potatoes as thin as he could, placed them in boiling fat and served them, much to the delight of the Commodore.
  36. In the late 1800s/early 1900s, vodka made from potatoes was first produced, in Poland, more than halving the cost of producing vodka from wheat.
  37. About 5 kg of potatoes are required to make one litre of vodka.
  38. In 1903 the Lumière brothers in France patented the auto chrome process of colour photography, and first marketed it in 1907. • Microscopic grains of dyed potato starch grains were sandwich held on to a glass negative with silver halide emulsion to produce the first colour photography process. It remained the principal colour photography process available, until it was superseded by the advent of colour film during the mid-1930s.
  39. In 1952, Mr Potato Head was born, consisting entirely of plastic parts. Consumers had to supply the potato to attach the arms and legs, etc. Mr Potato Head was the first toy to be advertised on network television. Mrs Potato Head appeared in 1953. Mr Potato Head has acted in two major films, Toy Story 1 and 2, but has never received an Oscar.
  40. In 1960 Dr. Edward Anton Asselbergs, working for Agriculture Canada in Ottawa, developed the process for making instant mashed potato flakes – the patent that is used world-wide today
  41. In 1974, an Englishman by the name of Eric Jenkins grew 168 kg of potatoes from a single plant. This world record still stands today
  42. In 1975 the largest potato was grown, in England, weighing in at over 8 kg, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
  43. In 1981, a small company in the UK started selling hedgehog-flavour potato chips (crisps).
  44. In 1993, an inventor in Idaho (Mr “Pops” Hutchins) patented a gun that used small chunks of flash-frozen potato to remove paint from bricks on old buildings.
  45. In 1995, the potato was the first vegetable to be grown in space, aboard the shuttle Columbia, because it is a prime candidate for supplying food for long space voyages to Mars and beyond.
  46. The term ‘spud’ comes from the Irish name for a type of spade used for digging potatoes.
  47. Store potatoes in a cool, dark place that is well ventilated. Put them in a brown paper bag if storing them in the light.
  48. Do not store potatoes in a refrigerator, the starch in them will begin to change into sugar and make them taste sweet and turn dark when they are cooked.
  49. Potato starch is used to make biodegradable golf tees.

50 The International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima, Peru maintains the largest collection of potatoes in the world, including almost 5000 varieties and about 100 wild species. The collection is maintained in trust under the auspices of the United Nations.


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