September is National Potato Month.
Potatoes are one of the most beloved and most produced foods on the planet. The humble healthful potato is popular for a number of reasons. They are relatively inexpensive to grow, available year round and are rich in nutrients. You can easily grow them at home! Potatoes are tubers that belong to the nightshade family which strangely include tomatoes, eggplants and bell peppers. With over a hundred edible varieties, they come in an array of colors, sizes, shapes and flavors. Potatoes are classified as either 'mature' or 'new'. New potatoes are harvested before fully grown, obviously smaller in size.( New Red potatoes or Purple potatoes)
The History of the Potato
Potatoes originated in the Andean Mountain area of South America where historians believe they have been cultivated for over 7000 years. They were one of the few crops that could survive the harsh climate. The Spanish brought them to Europe in the 16th century, but were not widely consumed until farmers discovered they were much easier to grow than wheat and oats. They also found them to be vitamin-rich and produced more yield per acre. Potatoes' popularity was greatly aided by Antoine-Augustin Paramentier, a pharmacist by training was imprisoned during the Seven Years War. He was forced to eat only potatoes and was surprised how he emerged with excellent health. He launched a public relations campaign on their benefits, organizing an all-potato dinner for some high society guests, which included Thomas Jefferson. He was so excited, he brought the "French Fry" back to America. Now you know!
Paramentier also persuaded Marie Antoinette and husband Louis XVI to wear potato flowers in her hair and him to adorn his suits. Finally, he planted acres of potatoes outside Paris so that starving peasants would steal them.
By the 18th century potatoes had become a staple around the world, but in 1845 a potato blight virtually wiped out the entire crop overnight. The Potato Famine in Ireland was the worst, where 40% of the Irish ate only ate potatoes as their solid food. Millions died and millions more migrated to America to escape the famine. America was the last country to adopt it to its cuisine. We now grow more then 17.1 million pounds per year and consume as much as 126 pounds per person.
Potatoes are naturally fat-free, cholesterol-free, high in fiber,low in sodium and packed full of vitamins and nutrients. Andrew "Spud" Taylor lost 114 lbs eating only potatoes for a year.
Here's an easy recipe any time of the day:
Fall Breakfast Bowl
1 sweet potato
1 white potato
Cube in 1/2" bite-size pieces.
Lightly cook-until tender- in olive oil with fresh rosemary and sage.
Top with pepitas and dried cranberries or raisins.
The affordable potato(even organic) should always be on your list of healthy food choices.
Have a great week.