D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\d8d32785-67cb-4f9e-8f55-e21a2e43d01c.doc Fifty potato facts 1. The potato (Solanum tuberosum) is the third most important food crop in the world after rice and wheat, with annual production exceeding 300 million tonnes. China is the world's biggest producer of potatoes, growing over 70 million tonnes a year. In the last 40 years the potato has changed from a northern crop, with only 15 percent produced in the south to one in which over half the world’s potato production is in less-developed countries. Today, more than a billion people worldwide eat potato. People in Belarus eat the most potatoes, consuming 171.2 kg/year per person. The potato is now grown in about 125 countries and all 50 states in the US. Potato originated in the highlands of South America, on the Titicaca Plateau in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Bolivia, near Lake Titicaca, where it has been eaten for more than 8000 years. There are over 5000 different varieties of potato, mostly found in the Andes Potatoes formed the basis of both the Inca and Aymara Indian diet. At high altitudes, the Incas dehydrated and freeze-dried potatoes, using the freezing night temperatures and the hot sunshine of the daylight hours. The potatoes were then stored for use by their armies and a guard against famine. These potatoes, called chuño, are still eaten today. Spanish explorers brought the plant to Europe in the late 16th century as a botanical curiosity. By the 19th century the potato had spread throughout Europe and elsewhere, providing cheap and abundant food for the workers One hectare of potato can yield an equivalent in food value of two to four hectares of grain. Potatoes also yield twice the protein per hectare of wheat. Potatoes produce more food per unit of water than any other major crop. Potato has attractive flowers that are five-lobed, 2-3 cm in diameter varying in color from white to deep bluish purple. Some varieties have a strong, attractive perfume. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\d8d32785-67cb-4f9e-8f55-e21a2e43d01c.doc 15. Potatoes are usually grown from other potatoes called seed tubers. However, potatoes also have flowers, which produce seed like any other plant. These can be used to grow normal potatoes. A potato is about 80% water and 20% solid. The potato is a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) along with chili peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and tobacco. The potato is NOT related to the sweetpotato. Green potato skins and sprouts contain a toxin called solamine and may be hazardous to your health. Potatoes are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, which release their energy slowly and keep the blood sugar level steadier and longer. Potatoes are very low in fat, with just 5 percent of the fat content of wheat, and one-fourth the calories of bread. Boiled, they have more protein than maize, and nearly twice the calcium. Each medium size potato provides about 110 calories, with almost 3 grams of proteins, no fat and almost 23 grams of carbohydrates. A single medium-sized potato contains about half the daily adult requirement of vitamin C, as well as significant amounts of iron, potassium and zinc. A single serving of a potato will provide a person with 40% of the daily value needed of vitamin C, as well as vitamin B. The Spanish noticed that the sailors who ate potatoes did not suffer from scurvy, because of their vitamin C content, and potatoes were soon a standard supply item on the Spanish ships. Potatoes can provide the body with more iron than any other vegetable, because the iron in potatoes is easier for the body to absorb. An average serving of potatoes provides about 10 percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber. Potatoes are not high in calories themselves. In fact, just one tablespoon of butter will double the number of calories in a baked potato. The potato contains valuable supplies of such essential trace elements as manganese, chromium, selenium and molybdenum. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\d8d32785-67cb-4f9e-8f55-e21a2e43d01c.doc 30. Potatoes can have white, yellow, pink, red, purple and even blue flesh. The colour comes from anthocyanins, which are antioxidants and thought to prevent cancer (by absorbing free radicals in the cells). Because of the heat transfer properties of the potato, an oven temperature above 177 deg C is needed to bake a potato properly. Potatoes do not absorb salt when they are boiling, so add salt after they have been cooked. When potatoes first reached Europe, the Scots refused to eat them because they were not mentioned in the Bible. The best French fries (chips) are fried twice. Cut up the potatoes and leave them in cold water for an hour before frying. Dry them thoroughly then drop them into hot oil and cook them slowly until they are soft in the middle. Remove them from the oil, drain them well, then dump them into really hot oil. This makes the outer surface golden brown and crunchy. In 1853 potato chips (crisps) were invented by accident in Saratoga Springs, New York when Commodore Vanderbilt complained to his steward that he made his French fries too thick. The steward sliced some potatoes as thin as he could, placed them in boiling fat and served them, much to the delight of the Commodore. In the late 1800s/early 1900s, vodka made from potatoes was first produced, in Poland, more than halving the cost of producing vodka from wheat. About 5 kg of potatoes are required to make one litre of vodka. In 1903 by the Lumière brothers in France patented the autochrome process of colour photography, and first marketed it in 1907. Microscopic grains of dyed potato starch grains were sandwich hed on to a glass negative with silver halide emulsion to produce the first color photography process. It remained the principal color photography process available, until it was superseded by the advent of color film during the mid-1930s. In 1952, Mr. Potato Head was born, consisting entirely of plastic parts. Consumers had to supply the potato to attach the arms and legs, etc. Mr. Potato Head was the first toy to be advertised on network television. Mrs. Potato Head appeared in 1953. In 1960 Dr. Edward Anton Asselbergs, working for Agriculture Canada in Ottawa, developed the process for making instant mashed potato flakes - the patent that is used world wide today. In 1974, an Englishman by the name of Eric Jenkins grew 168 kg of potatoes from a single plant. This was a world record that still stands today. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\d8d32785-67cb-4f9e-8f55-e21a2e43d01c.doc 42. 43. 44. In 1975 in England the largest potato grown, weighing in at over 8 kg, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. In 1981, a small company in the UK started selling hedgehog-flavor potato chips (crisps). In 1993, an inventor in Idaho (Mr. “Pops” Hutchins) patented a gun that used small chunks of flash-frozen potato to remove paint from bricks on old buildings. In 1995, the potato was the first vegetable to be grown in space, aboard the shuttle Columbia, because it is a prime candidate for supplying food for long space voyages to Mars and beyond. The term 'spud' comes from the Irish name for a type of spade used for digging potatoes. Store potatoes in a cool, dark place that is well ventilated. Put them in a brown paper bag if storing them in the light. Do not store potatoes in a refrigerator, the starch in them will begin to change into sugar and make them taste sweet and turn dark when they are cooked. Potato starch is used to make biodegradable golf tees. The International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima, Peru maintains the largest collection of potatoes in the world, including almost 5000 varieties of about 100 wild species. The collection is maintained in trust under the auspices of the United Nations. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50.