Letter to the Editor

In praise of the humble spud

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Dear Editor,

Potatoes grown in the Andes of Peru have come a long way.

The Quechua Indians, who cultivated them, had at least a thousand words for them.

Americans visualize them being served as french fries.

They are so hardy that they will grow below sea level and behind the Dutch dikes in Holland. Our backyard gardens can produce some fine potatoes.

Nutritionists rate the quality of the potato as a higher source of protein than the soybean.

Potatoes are said to be the staff of life for poor people and the gourmet’s delight. Thanks to the conquistadors and Pizarro, who traveled to peru in the 1530s, they were introduced to Europe.

Today the potato is found in 130 countries. It grows in more countries than any crop except corn. After being introduced in Europe, the humble potato has developed into an amazing food source. It takes about 23 potatoes to add up to a total of 2,500 calories.

If the world’s temperature decides to drop a few degrees, the cool-weather-loving potato will become a reliable food source.

Rootlike potatoes are actually tubers, or part of an underground stem. A potato plant sprouts from an eye or a bud.

Tomatoes, eggplants and tobacco are all related to the potato. However, the sweet potato is not related to the potato.

About a third of the potato’s nutrients are found beneath the skin. In the U.S., 12% of the potato crop is used for chips. Some 27% is processed for french fries, 32% are consumed as a vegetable, 2% are used to feed livestock, 2% become canned potatoes, starch and flour.

In Scotland, the Scots refused to eat the potato because it wasn’t mentioned in the Bible.

Although wild potatoes have been found as far north as Nebraska, no species was cultivated for food outside South America until the 1500s.

The potato famine in Ireland in 1841-45 was a disaster for the Irish.

Luther Burbank, the American horticulturalist, developed the russet burbank potato.

Helen Ruth Arnold,

Trenton, Neb.

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