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Browsing Category Potato History

Spudnik celebrates 60 years

It was the same year the Russian satellite Sputnik was launched into space that Spudnik Equipment Company launched itself into the potato equipment manufacturing business. It started in a potato cellar northwest of Blackfoot, Idaho (the potato capital of the world), by a group of men with the idea that loading potatoes should be less back breaking than the method they were using. Brothers Carl and Leo Hobbs designed and developed the…

Alberta Potato History Outlined in New Book

The history of the potato is a long and varied one. From the spud’s humble beginning in South America, to its current production throughout the world, potatoes are an integral part of almost every human being. One provincial association has decided to bring the history of the potato in its province closer to home. The Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) recently launched a book about the history of potatoes in Alberta. According…

Impact of the Potato on Society

Archeological and genetic evidence indicates the domestication of the potato probably took place about 8,000 years ago in the vicinity of Lake Titicaca, located on the border of current Peru and Bolivia. From Pachamanca and Chuño to Unprecedented Inflation The domestication of the potato gradually resulted in greater food production, which in turn stimulated population growth, development of cities, technology, crafts, arts, sciences and political centralization in the Inca Empire. One of…

What’s in a Name?

Even though Shakespeare has very eloquently expressed that names are no substitute for substance (as Juliet tells Romeo: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”), names are nevertheless important. In many cultures, great emphasis is placed on the naming of newborn children — in some instances, first names may provide an indication of the cultural, political and social circumstances surrounding the…

Celebrating 150-plus years of potato production

Long before John A. Macdonald took office as this country’s first prime minister 150 years ago, there were potatoes growing in Canada. But before we go into the history of the potato, let’s go back to the very beginning. Potatoes originated in the Andes in South America and were taken to Spain around the year 1500. However, another 200 years or so passed before potatoes were recognized as a useful food source…

What’s in a Name?

Even though Shakespeare has very eloquently expressed that names are no substitute for substance (as Juliet tells Romeo: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”), names are nevertheless important. In many cultures, great emphasis is placed on the naming of newborn children — in some instances, first names may provide an indication of the cultural, political and social circumstances surrounding the…

From Chuno to Vodka

Fresh potato consumption, once the mainstay of world potato utilization, is decreasing in many countries, especially in developed regions. Currently, more potatoes are processed to meet rising demand from the fast food, snack and convenience food industries. The major drivers behind this development include growing urban populations, rising incomes, changing diets and the diversification of lifestyles that leave less time for preparing fresh potatoes at home. This shift, in turn, is affecting…

Wild Potato Cousins

The potato probably has more related wild species than any other crop. These wild relatives grow through much of the Americas, from the United States southwest through Central America and then along the South American Andes Mountains from Venezuela through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and northwest Argentina. They also occur in the lowlands of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and southern Brazil. Over millions of years, various wild potato species have adapted to…

Domestication of the Potato

Domestication can be defined as the human creation of a new form of a plant or animal — one that is clearly different from its wild ancestors and relatives. Of the tens of thousands of plant species on the planet, only a few hundred have been domesticated. Of these, a dozen or so — including the potato — provide a large majority of the world’s food supply. The potato as we know it…

A Bug’s Life

The Colorado potato beetle is arguably the most devastating insect pest of potatoes, with most of the damage done by its voracious larva. This pest occupies an interesting place in North American potato history. Its first discovery in the United States was in the Rocky Mountains in 1811, when it was found feeding on sand bur, a wild relative of the potato. The name Colorado potato beetle is really a misnomer because…

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