Just this past week I planted approximately 50 potatoes in my garden. If this crop does even moderately well I believe that I will probably have enough potatoes for myself and to trade or sell to others. But as I planted all of these potatoes (8 different varieties) I began to wonder about the potato itself. For the potato is one of the most commonly eaten vegetables in America, second only to corn. This seems appropriate since these two vegetables are native to the Americas. However I think you must look at the history of the potato to truly appreciate its rise to stardom in America. For a little over 140 years ago the potato was nearly non-existent as a culinary dish in the United States.
Archaeologists have found remains of potatoes that date back nearly 2500 years in the modern regions of Peru and Chile. The Incas grew and worshiped the potato as a divine gift. The Incas would have storage sites along their roads. Within these storage sites potatoes would lie waiting for the hungry traveler who needed their nourishment. The conquistadors of course invaded and conquered the Americas in the 1500's. In 1565 a Spanish conquistador named Gonzalo Jiminez de Quesada took the potato back to Spain in lieu of the gold that he was supposed to have found. Although this may not be the first time potatoes were brought to Europe it is the first recorded event of when they were brought back. The Spanish were so taken with the potato that they kept them on all of their sailing ships. It should also be noted that on ships where sailors ate potatoes scurvy did not occur.
However it should be noted that the potato did not receive as good a reception from the rest of Europe as it did from Spain. It was considered by many to be a weird, poisonous. and evil plant. In France the potato was thought to cause leprosy, syphilis, narcosis, scrofula, early death, sterility, and rampant sexual behavior. Many farmers also believed that the potato would destroy the soil where it grew making it impossible to grow anything else where it grew. The town of Besancon, France passed an edict in opposition to the potato that stated, "In view of the