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What Is a Potato?

The potato is a kind of edible tuber that is native to South America. But now this starchy staple is grown all over the world. Potatoes have a long history of cultivation, it has been grown for over 10,000 years and at present over one thousand potato varieties are being grown in different parts of the world. Although of this large number, only a few are being cultivated commercially. Potatoes have played a part in the culture and history of many countries in South America and its influence has grown far beyond the Americas as it has been incorporated into European cuisine and its culture when the tuber was introduced in the continent in the 1600s.

Man started domesticating the potato around 8000 BC. Because of the cultivation of different variants of the potato, it quickly became one of the staple foods, one of the others being corn. Europeans were introduced to the potato when explorers began to visit the Americas and cop samples were eventually shipped to Europe. There was an initial apprehension over adding potatoes to the garden though because of its relation to the nightshade family, of which eggplants and tomatoes are part of. These types of plants can be toxic. But after trial cultivation of some farmers, potatoes were eventually introduced to the diet of Europeans.

Potatoes can be hard to grow because of its susceptibility to both rot and fungus, this is one of the reasons why there was a great failure of potato crops in Ireland in 1845.

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