The Mighty Spud

May 29, 2009

“Why should it be absurd to suggest that the potato changed world history?” John Reader asks in “Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent.” If the claim seems odd to those for whom the tuber is little more than a mainstay of comfort foods, Reader argues that its low-key ubiquity is an indication of just how central the potato is to our lives.

Beginning with evidence of 12,500-year-old domesticated potatoes at an archaeological site in Chile, moving to the Inca Empire and on to Renaissance Europe, Reader shows how potatoes (which today are the world’s fourth-largest food crop) have tipped the balance of subsistence.

Read it on the NYT site…

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