Many researchers believe that the potato’s arrival in northern Europe spelled an end to famine there. Corn, another American crop, played a similar but smaller role in southern Europe. More than that, as the historian William H. McNeill has argued, the potato led to empire, “By feeding rapidly growing populations, permitted a handful of European nations to assert dominion over most of the world between 1750 and 1950.” The potato, in other words, fueled the rise of the West.
Just as important, the European and North American adoption of the potato set the template for modern agriculture the so called agro industrial complex. Not only did the Columbian Exchange carry the potato across the Atlantic, it also brought the world’s first intensive fertilizer, Peruvian guano. And when potatoes fell to the attack of another import, the Colorado potato beetle, panicked farmers turned to the first artificial pesticide, a form of arsenic. Competition to produce ever more potent arsenic blends launched the modern pesticide industry. In the 1940s and 1950s, improved crops, high intensity fertilizers and chemical pesticides created the Green Revolution, the explosion of agricultural productivity that transformed farms from Illinois to Indonesia and set off a political argument about the food supply that grows more intense by the day.
Research Source: Smithsonian Online
Need a change, try these cheesy mashed potatoes.
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
Copyrighted 2013, Christine’s Pantry. All rights reserved.
3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons butter
milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, add more if desired
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Cook potatoes in salted water, until fork tender. Drain, and return to same pot. Add butter, milk salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency. Stir in cheddar cheese. Enjoy!