The humble potato has had quite a trip before becoming one of the world’s most popular meals; the spud’s narrative has snaked in between many civilizations and regions for thousands of years. History of potatoes can be understood by following explanation.
Around 8000 Years Ago
The first reported evidence of the potato was discovered in the Peruvian Andes at approximately 6000BC. According to research, populations of hunters first arrived on the South American continent 7000 years ago, before gathering wild potato plants. The plants grew surrounding Lake Titicaca, which is located high in the highlands.
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Andean farmers learned that potato growth thrived at greater altitudes; therefore it was planted in the ‘valley zone.’ Civilizations grew up around Lake Titicaca, fueled mostly by the effective cultivation and harvesting of maize and potatoes. The Huari civilization arose in approximately 500 AD and grew into the state of Tiahuanacu, which had a population of around 500,000 people among its neighboring villages!
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After the fall of Huari and Tiahuanacu between 1000 and 1200, the Inca civilization flourished in the Cuzco valley around 1400. This community grew to be the largest and fastest expanding in the Americas. They improved on their forefathers’ farming methods and increased maize and potato output. Chuo, a potato dish, was the principal food item eaten by officials, soldiers, and laborers, and it even functioned as a backup supply for crop failures. Potatoes were thoroughly established in Andean society at this stage; they were dubbed the “people’s” meal and played an important role in the people’s worldview; for example, time was measured by how long it took to boil a spud!
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The Incas were defeated by the Spanish in 1532, thereby ending their control over the continent. After Spanish explorers returned to their beaches with the crop, this invasion resulted in the introduction of the potato to Europe.
The specific date when the spud was originally brought to Ireland is uncertain. There are numerous versions of the narrative; one claims it was brought by British adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh, while another claims potatoes washed ashore on the coast of Cork following the destruction of a Spanish Armada ship. Nonetheless, Raleigh did sow potato seeds at his Irish home in Cork in 1589 before giving them to Queen Elizabeth I as a gift.
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The potato continued its voyage to other European countries in the hands of sailors who delivered the spud to other ports. The potato had a rocky start with farmers who labeled it as untrustworthy, but it quickly became a staple food and crop that undoubtedly contributed to the 19th-century population surge.
The “Great Famine” in Ireland from 1845 to 1849 caused problems for the potato in the middle of the nineteenth century. During this period, the potato crop became infected, forcing many Irish people to flee. Trade ceased, and with it, unemployment, creating a void of opportunity. Over half of Irish nationals went to countries such as North America and Australia.
Today, there are over a thousand different varieties of potatoes, and they have become an essential element in many of the world’s cuisines. It is the world’s fourth-largest food crop, following only rice, wheat, and maize. It has also extended to new territory in Southern and Eastern Asia in recent decades, with China and India alone producing about a third of the world’s potatoes.