When I grow up,
I want to be,
A French fry farmer,
Basking in the sun,
As the days grow warmer.
What do you know,
About the potato?
Do you know where it’ll grow?
Do you know how far it will go?
I had the luck of the Irish,
With this dish.
On the other hand,
I can understand,
How devastating a dependence can be,
When faced with a famine…
Oh sooo nasty,
Causing death and flight,
It would not relent,
Reducing the human,
It just goes to show,
The power of the potato,
You can bake,
Eat the flake,
Or, why not try,
A different kind of French fry?
There’s twice baked,
Or, with parsley… caked,
And, what about al gratin?
… just eat ‘em up… before they go rotten.
Ooops, I almost forgot to mention the skin,
If you see eyes looking back at you…
About your view,
I… always try to find a potato with a blind eye,
For there’s no reason to crave a toxin.
With this in mind,
Why not find,
Eat it here… or get it to go.
Potatoes are a great food. While teaching children, I was taken back by how few knew that potatoes are plants… that grow underground. So, I’ve been making an effort to educate people on the value of potatoes. They are one of the most nutritious foods and can be included with the plants that are “almost able to sustain human life” (like soybeans.)
The most significant problem with potatoes is the skin. One reason is the use of commercial pesticides. The residue is difficult to remove. Another reason is the natural pesticides that a potato makes to try to protect itself. As the potato matures and starts to develop eyes, the amount of chemical increases. Consuming these potatoes may result in headaches or other health related side-effects. In order to avoid these problems, grow your own potatoes and eat them as soon as harvested.
seems to appear that (the irish and) some folks
lived on a very high sugar diet
such as alcohol and potatoes
tv news doctors said recently
too many spuds
trigger unhealthy stuffs
in one’s body
yes you are correct… meat is the most important (but it’s not as “nice” to write about… ya know? butcher, blood, guts n’ stuff… bluck)
then i added:
hmmm… i’ve been thinking about this
maybe i should do two chapters at once… weird and favorites
now, heeehe… a spud is both
but, the thing about a spud is… if i had to keep a bunch of people alive…
i’d need meat
also, i’d need some other food
for those facing starving to death… the potato would likely be… #2?
or at least the top of the vegies that can feed masses efficiently? (corn and soy are harder for most people to grow)
#2 vegie would probably be carrot
… and #1 fruit… tomato?
From Borbia Lite FM 102.2
Bord Glas Garden Talk
The humble potato has recently, from a culinary perspective, become very trendy. I’m delighted to report that this renewed interest has encouraged a number of horticultural distributors to produce new handy attractive seed potato packs for the retail market.
With a little effort you could be enjoying the fresh taste of your own home grown spuds this summer even if you have the tiniest of gardens!
You can grow and taste varieties that you will not find in the shops.
History of the Potato Solanum tuberosum (potato’s Latin name)
Originated in the highlands of South America where it has been consumed for more than 8,000 years.
The Spanish brought potatoes back to plant in Europe in the late 16th century mostly as a botanical curiosity.
By the 19th century it had spread throughout Europe because the potato provided cheap and abundant food for the workers of the industrial revolution.
Irish Potato History
Interestingly, Ireland was one of the first European countries to really adopt the potato and it became an established crop by the early 17th century. Whereas it took another 100 years before it became established in Britain.
The rapidly expanding agrarian population became increasingly dependent on the potato. There was a very severe famine in 1740-41 and 14 full or partial potato famines between 1816 and 1842, mostly weather related.
The great famine of 1845 - 1847 was due to potato blight and devastated the country. The population fell from 8.2m in 1840 to 4.4m in 1911.
Is the 4th most important food crop in the world.
Annual world production is approaching 300 million metric tonnes.
More than one third of world production now comes from developing countries, whereas in the early 1960’s this represented a mere 11%.
How to grow great potatoes
Buy your seed potatoes anytime from now until February. If it is your first time growing potatoes buy a ‘first early’ variety such as Sharpe’s Express or Duke of York. ‘First Early’ varieties grown outdoors will be ready for harvesting by next June and are less likely to get blight.
Store your seed in a bright, not heated environment (e.g. cool window sill). Short strong green/purple sprouts will develop. (Chitting)
If you are short of space you can plant potatoes in containers. Choose a large container e.g. barrel. Containers could be planted as early as February indoors and subsequently moved outside when the risk of hard frost has passed.
A novel idea is to use car tyres. Place a tyre in the desired position and fill with compost. Plant seed. Place another tyre on the base tyre and repeat. You can safely build a 5 to 6 story tower. When the tower is complete cut 4 small holes in each tyre and the sprouts will find and grow out of these gaps.
The key to success of growing potatoes outdoors is to prepare the ground well. Choose a sunny site. Till the soil and add fertilizer. The best fertilizer is well-rotted farmyard manure (available in garden centres).
Plant seed around St. Patrick’s Day. The potatoes should be sown 12 to 15 inches apart in the drills should be about 24″apart.
When the shoots grow to about 9″ high you should use earth from between the drills and pile loose soil against the stems to produce a ridge of about 6 inches high. This will prevent many of the uppermost potatoes turning green before harvesting.
Make sure to water potatoes in periods of dry weather.
2 Potatoes for specific culinary uses
Colleen for old-fashioned boiling.
Kerr’s Pink great for making chips and wedges.
Tip of the week:
Did you know that growing a crop of potatoes is a great way to keep a plot relatively weed free and that the roots of the potato break up clay soil into a wonderfully fine texture. Saves a lot of backache!
Potatoes are a very popular food source. Unfortunately, most people eat potatoes in the form of greasy French fries or potato chips, and even baked potatoes are typically loaded down with fats such as butter, sour cream, melted cheese and bacon bits. Such treatment can make even baked potatoes a potential contributor to a heart attack. But take away the extra fat and deep frying, and a baked potato is an exceptionally healthful low calorie, high fiber food that offers significant protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Our food ranking system qualified potatoes as a very good source of vitamin B6, a good source of the vitamins C, B3 (niacin), and B5 (pantothenic acid); dietary fiber; and the minerals copper, potassium, iron and magnesium.
Vitamin B6–Building Your Cells
If only for its high concentration of vitamin B6–a cup of baked potato contains 32.3% of the daily value for this important nutrient–the potato earns high marks as a health-promoting food.
Vitamin B6 is involved in more than 100 enzymatic reactions. Enzymes are proteins that help chemical reactions take place, so vitamin B6 is active virtually everywhere in the body. Many of the building blocks of protein, amino acids, require B6 for their synthesis, as do the nucleic acids used in the creation of our DNA. Because amino and nucleic acids are such critical parts of new cell formation, vitamin B6 is essential for the formation of virtually all new cells in the body. Heme (the protein center of our red blood cells) and phospholipids (cell membrane components that enable messaging between cells) also depend on vitamin B6 for their creation.
Vitamin B6–Athletic Performance
B6 is also necessary for the breakdown of glycogen, the form in which sugar is stored in our muscle cells and liver, so this vitamin is a key player in athletic performance and endurance.
Vitamin B6–Brain Cell and Nervous System Activity
Vitamin B6 plays numerous roles in our nervous system, many of which involve neurological (brain cell) activity. B6 is necessary for the creation of amines, a type of messaging molecule or neurotransmitter that the nervous system relies on to transmit messages from one nerve to the next. Some of the amine-derived neurotransmitters that require vitamin B6 for their production are serotonin, a lack of which is linked to depression; melatonin, the hormone needed for a good night’s sleep; epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones that help us respond to stress; and GABA, which is needed for normal brain function.
Vitamin B6–Cardiovascular and Cancer Protection
Vitamin B6 plays another critically important role in methylation, a chemical process in which methyl groups are transferred from one molecule to another. Many essential chemical events in the body are made possible by methylation, for example, genes can be switched on and turned off in this way. This is particularly important in cancer prevention since one of the genes that can be switched on and off is the tumor suppressor gene, p53. Another way that methylation helps prevent cancer is by attaching methyl groups to toxic substances to make them less toxic and encourage their elimination from the body.
Methylation is also important to cardiovascular health. Methylation changes a potentially dangerous molecule called homocysteine into other, benign substances. Since homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls greatly increasing the progression of atherosclerosis, high homocysteine levels are associated with a significantly increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Eating foods rich in vitamin B6 can help keep homocysteine levels low. In addition, diets high in vitamin B6-rich foods are associated with overall lower rates of heart disease, even when homocysteine levels are normal, most likely because of all the other beneficial activities of this energetic B vitamin.
A single baked potato will also provide you with 14.7% of the daily value for fiber, but remember the fiber in potatoes is mostly in their skin. If you want the cholesterol-lowering, colon cancer preventing, and bowel supportive effects of fiber, be sure to eat the potato’s flavorful skin as well as its creamy center.
Whether it is mashed, baked or made into French fries, many people often think of the potato as a comfort food. This sentiment probably inspired the potato’s scientific name, Solanum tuberosum, since solanum is derived from a Latin word meaning “soothing”. The potato’s name also reflects that it belongs to the solanaceae family whose other members include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos.
There are about 100 varieties of edible potatoes. They range in size, shape, color, starch content and flavor. They are often classified as either mature potatoes (the large potatoes that we are generally familiar with) and new potatoes (those that are harvested before maturity and are of a much smaller size). Some of the popular varieties of mature potatoes include the Russet Burbank, the White Rose and the Katahdin, while the Red LeSoda and Red Pontiac are two types of new potatoes. There are also delicate fingerling varieties available which, as their name suggests, are finger-shaped.
The skin of potatoes is generally brown, red or yellow, and may be smooth or rough, while the flesh is yellow or white. There are also other varieties available that feature purple-grey skin and a beautiful deep violet flesh.
As potatoes have a neutral starchy flavor, they serve as a good complement to many meals. Their texture varies slightly depending upon their preparation, but it can be generally described as rich and creamy.
Potatoes originated in the Andean mountain region of South America. Researchers estimate that potatoes have been cultivated by the Indians living in these areas for between 4,000 and 7,000 years. Unlike many other foods, potatoes were able to be grown at the high altitudes typical of this area and therefore became a staple food for these hardy people.
Potatoes were brought to Europe by Spanish explorers who “discovered” them in South America in the early 16th century. Since potatoes are good sources of vitamin C, they were subsequently used on Spanish ships to prevent scurvy. They were introduced into Europe via Spain, and while they were consumed by some people in Italy and Germany, they were not widely consumed throughout Europe, even though many governments actively promoted this nutritious foodstuff that was relatively inexpensive to produce. The reason for this is that since people knew that the potato is related to the nightshade family, many felt that it was poisonous like some other members of this family. In addition, many judged potatoes with suspicion since they were not mentioned in the Bible. In fact, potatoes initially had such a poor reputation in Europe that many people thought eating them would cause leprosy.
Some of the credit for the rise in potatoes’ popularity is given to two individuals who creatively engineered plans to create demand for the potato. In the 18th century, a French agronomist named Parmentier created a scheme whereby peasants could “steal” potatoes from the King’s “guarded” gardens. He also developed and popularized the mashed potato that became popular probably because he made this suspicious vegetable unrecognizable. Another person who was instrumental to the acceptance of potatoes was Count Rumford. A member of the British scientific group, the Royal Society, Rumford created a mush soup made of potatoes, barley, peas and vinegar, which the German peasants adopted as a satisfying and inexpensive dish.
The potato was thought to have been first brought to the United States in the early 18th century by Irish immigrants who settled in New England. People in this country were slow to adopt the “Irish potato” and large scale cultivation of potatoes did not occur in the U.S. until the 19th century.
There are not that many foods that can claim that a pivotal historical event centered around them. But the potato can. By the early 19th century, potatoes were being grown extensively throughout Northern Europe, and potatoes were almost solely relied upon as a foodstuff in Ireland owing to this vegetable’s inexpensive production and the poor economy of this country. Yet, in 1845 and 1846, a blight ruined most of the potato crop in Ireland and caused major devastation: this event is known as the Irish Potato Famine. Almost three-quarters of a million people died, and hundreds of thousands emigrated to other countries, including the United States, in search of sustenance.
Today, this once-infamous vegetable is one of the most popular throughout the world and the one that Americans consume more of pound for pound than any other. Currently, the main producers of potatoes include the Russian Federation, Poland, India, China and the United States.
How to Select and Store
While potatoes are often conveniently packaged in a plastic bag, it is oftentimes better to buy them individually from a bulk display. Not only will this allow you to better inspect the potatoes for signs of decay or damage, but many times, the plastic bags are not perforated and cause a build up of moisture that can negatively affect the potatoes.
Potatoes should be firm, well-shaped and relatively smooth, and should be free of decay that often manifests as wet or dry rot. In addition, they should not be sprouting or have green coloration since this indicates that they may contain the toxic alkaloid solanine that has been found to not only impart an undesirable taste, but can also cause a host of different health conditions such as circulatory and respiratory depression, headaches and diarrhea.
Sometimes stores will offer already cleaned potatoes. These should be avoided since when their protective coating is removed by washing, potatoes are more vulnerable to bacteria. In addition, already cleaned potatoes are also more expensive, and since you will have to wash them again before cooking, you will be paying an unnecessary additional cost.
Since new potatoes are harvested before they are fully mature, they are much more susceptible to damage. Be especially careful when purchasing these to buy ones that are free from discoloration and injury.
The ideal way to store potatoes is in a dark, dry place between 45?F to 50?F as higher temperatures, even room temperature, will cause the potatoes to sprout and dehydrate prematurely. While most people do not have root cellars that provide this type of environment, to maximize the potato’s quality and storage, you should aim to find a place as close as possible to these conditions. Storing them in a cool, dark closet or basement may be suitable alternatives. Potatoes should definitely not be exposed to sunlight as this can cause the development of the toxic alkaloid solanine to form.
Potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator, as their starch content will turn to sugar giving them an undesirable taste. In addition, do not store potatoes near onions, as the gases that they each emit will cause the degradation of one another. Wherever you store them, they should be kept in a burlap or paper bag. They should only be stored in a plastic bag if it is perforated to allow for moisture to escape.
Mature potatoes stored properly can keep up to two months. Check on the potatoes frequently, removing any that have sprouted or shriveled as spoiled ones can quickly affect the quality of the others. New potatoes are much more perishable and will only keep for one week.
Cooked potatoes will keep fresh in the refrigerator for several days. Potatoes do not freeze well.
How to Enjoy
Tips for Preparing Potatoes:
The potato skin is a concentrated source of dietary fiber, so to get the most nutritional value from this vegetable, don’t peel it and consume both the flesh and the skin. Just scrub the potato under cold running water right before cooking and then remove any deep eyes or bruises with a paring knife. If you must peel it, do so carefully with a vegetable peeler, only removing a thin layer of the skin and therefore retaining the nutrients that lie just below the skin.
Potatoes should be cleaned and cut right before cooking in order to avoid the discoloration that occurs with exposure to air. If you cannot cook them immediately after cutting, place them in a bowl of cold water to which you have added a little bit of lemon juice, as this will prevent their flesh from darkening and will also help to maintain its shape during cooking. As potatoes are also sensitive to certain metals that may cause them to discolor, avoid cooking them in iron or aluminum pots or using a carbon steel knife to cut them.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Quarter medium-sized potatoes and brush with olive oil before placing on the barbeque and grilling.
For healthy “french fries,” cut potatoes into the desired stick-shapes, toss with a little olive oil, place on a cookie sheet, and bake at 350? for 20 minutes, then turn with a spatula and bake another 15-20 minutes. Season with your favorite spices and enjoy.
Brush new potatoes with olive oil, sprinkle fresh rosemary leaves on top and bake on medium-high oven until cooked.
Pur?e roasted garlic, cooked potatoes and olive oil together to make delicious garlic mashed potatoes. Season to taste.
If you prefer to make mashed potatoes without the skin, reserve the skin for this quick serving idea. Brush some olive oil on the skin and then season it with your favorite herbs and spices. Broil in the oven until toasty and then serve as is or garnished with your favorite toppings.
Layer sliced baked potatoes, black beans, cubed tomatoes and onions and shredded cheese for a quick and easy lunch or dinner meal.
Potatoes are a featured ingredient in the classic dish, salad nicoise, that pairs new potatoes with chunks of tunafish and steamed green beans dressed lightly with oil and vinegar.
Potatoes and Pesticides
Even though pesticides are present in food at very small trace levels, their negative impact on health is well documented. The liver’s ability to process other toxins, the cells’ ability to produce energy, and the nerves’ ability to send messages can all be compromised by pesticide exposure. Individuals wanting to avoid these health risks may want to avoid consumption of potatoes unless grown organically, since potatoes are among the 20 foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Thorough scrubbing of the skins of non-organic potatoes with a natural bristle vegetable brush and cool running water will help remove some, but not all of the pesticide residues.
Potatoes are a very good source of vitamin B6. They are also a good source of vitamin C, niacin, pantothenic acid and dietary fiber. In addition, potatoes are a good source of many minerals including copper, potassium, iron and magnesium.
oEnsminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California. oEnsminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. oFortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York. oWood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988.