The almighty Potato. What would we do without it? It’s ever so slightly ironic how much we rely on potatoes as a food source, considering how they were rejected for many years for being considered the route to disease.
Since the starchy, tuberous crop is clearly a large part of our diet, here are some facts for you about it that you may or may not have known.
Potatoes don’t count towards your 5 a day
That’s right. Despite technically being a vegetable, potatoes are actually closer to the likes of bread or pasta due to its starchy and carbohydrate rich nature. The nutritional value that you’d gain from it barely affects your 5 a day of fruit and vegetables.
It was once believed that Potatoes were poisonous
When the potato first came about, a lot of people gave it a miss thinking it caused all sorts of problems. Those that consumed them were thought to be susceptible to the likes of leprosy or comas. However, they technically weren’t entirely wrong about being this way. Potatoes contain a poisonous compound solanines, which reaches toxic levels in green ones and has potential to cause diahrrea and cramps.
Potato batteries are quite powerful
You may have already learned about this in your primary school, but potatoes are capable of creating electricity and can even be used as batteries. A potato battery has the potential to keep a room lit for over a month, apparently. Maybe they could be the solution to more sustainable power one day?
Original Mr. Potatohead toys used real Potatoes
Potatoes have their fun element to them as well as their food element. Spud guns were a popular toy that would have been part of a young lad’s collection of weaponry before the digital age. I’m sure parents weren’t keen on the little bits of spud lying around but it was all harmless fun. We now know of Mr. Potato head being a simple plastic figure potato that you can insert your eyes and ears etc. onto. Back in 1952, it was the first toy to get its own TV advert and needed an actual potato that you insert the facial features into. It wasn’t until 1962 that a plastic potato was introduced.
1/3 of all Potatoes are harvested in China & India
China are by far the largest spud producers in the world, producing 88.9 million metric tons in 2013 alone. Behind them is India, who produced 45 million metric tons in the same year. Following from those two is then Russia, Ukraine and the USA.
Some Potatoes are purple
It sounds weird, but there are actually “blue” varieties of Potato, such as the “Blue Swede”. When raw they have more a purple appearance skin and flesh wise, but once cooked they come out blue. They’re apparently quite nutty in flavour.
Potatoes were first cultivated as long ago as 200 B.C.
It was the Incans in South America that were first to cultivate the almighty spud as far as back as 2200 years ago. Fast forward to the 16th century, Spain then took the Potato during their Conquest and introduced it to Europe. The word “Potato” actually comes from the spanish word “patata”.
It was the first vegetable to be grown in space
In 1995 space shuttle Columbia became home to the first ever vegetable to be grown off the face of the Earth. A few potatoes were planted and they amazingly germinated. Does that technically make them aliens?
You could survive on nothing but Potatoes and Milk
I wouldn’t advise doing this, but humans can apparently live on a diet of nothing but Potatoes and Milk or Butter. Potatoes contain all the vitamins that you need, apart from Vitamin A and Vitamin D which you can make up with either Milk or Butter. You’d have to be seriously in love with Mash to even consider this though.
80% of a Potato is water
Ever sliced into a raw potato to have it leak everywhere? That’s because only 20% of it is actually a solid. Potato juice is actually a good natural remedy for gastritis.