Organic Potatoes

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Potatoes grew wild along the Peruvian coast more than 13,000 years ago, and organic potatoes were being cultivated by the shores of Lake Titicaca more than 7,000 years ago. Potatoes were once thought to both cause leprosy and to act as an aphrodisiac.

The Great Irish Potato Famine of 1845 is one of the first clearly documented cases of the dangers of monoculture (take that, aribusinesses Monsanto and Simplot!): the potatoes grown in Europe in the 18th and early 19th centuries all descended from a small group of seedlings that were closely related, and then inbred like mad. When blackspot blight struck, there was no disease-resistance --- and millions of people died. A Great Revival took place afterwards, with botanists returning to the wilds of Mexico and South America to seek potato specimens that would improve the tubers' genetic diversity.

Potato water, made by boiling one potato in two cups of water, is an ingredient that can make home-made bread both crispier and fluffier. Breadmakers on family farms often used a yeast starter whose main ingredient was boiled potatoes.

Potatoes with any hint of green on their skins should be avoided: the green indicates a high presence of the potentially toxic alkaloids, solanine and chaconine.


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