Did you know that the Indians in Peru were the first people to cultivate the potato over 4000 years ago? The Andean Mountains of South America is the birthplace of the "Irish" white potato. The Symara Indians developed over two hundred varieties at elevations of over 10,000 feet over sea level.
The potato, a name derived from the American Indian word "Batata", was introduced to Europeans be Spanish conquerors during th elate 16th Century.
The Spanish claim that Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada was the first to introduce the potato to Europe in the year 1550. The Irish say that it was nut until 1585 that Sir Walter Raleigh introduced the potato to Europe.
At first, potatoes were not initially accepted by Europeans. Some claimed potatoes were not mentioned in the bible, while others attributed some common diseases to potatoes.
Potatoes first became popular when Marie Antoinette paraded in France wearing a crown of potato blossoms. In the late 1700's Frederick the Great planted potatoes in his Pleasure Garden in Berlin. He admired the beauty of the potato flowers. King Frederick the Great promoted the eating of potatoes because of its high nutritional value.
Captain Nathaniel Butler, Governor of Bermuda sent a cargo of potatoes to Francis Wyatt, governor of Virginia in 1621. This is the first time potatoes arrived in North America.
In 1770 a crop failure gave a war its name - "The Potato War" when a war between Frederick the Great and Maria Theresa forced soldiers to steal the enemy's potatoes as there was not much more food to eat. When the potatoes were finished, so did the war.
In 1845 and 1846 the potato crop in Ireland was devastated by fungus. The potato had become a major food to the Irish causing the "Irish Potato Famine" which cased many Irish to immigrate. The population of Ireland decreased by nearly two million between 1847 and 1851.
The potato is now a very common food item worldwide. In the United States, potatoes are grown in all 50 states and in about 125 countries worldwide.
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