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Sat, May 25

They called him ‘Tater Salad’

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Remember when Mr. Potato Head was a real potato?

The iconic childhood toy began as a cereal box promotion in an attempt to get kids to eat more vegetables, and I guess it worked because we love our potatoes.

Potatoes are the second-most consumed food in the United States after milk products, in fact Americans consume over 100 pounds per person every year. They are also the world’s fourth most important staple after wheat, corn and rice.

Potatoes are one of the most efficient crops to grow considering that much of the world is facing severe water shortages; potatoes yield more food per unit of water than any other major crop. Potatoes contain almost half of our daily requirement of Vitamin C and have more potassium than a banana. All in all they are loaded with over 60 different vitamins and flavonoids, including kukoa mines which are plant chemicals known to help lower blood pressure.

Potatoes have more usable iron than any other vegetable, are gluten free and loaded with complex carbohydrates. Though carbohydrates get a bad rap we need complex carbs; it’s the fuel that we run on.

The Incan Indians were the first to cultivate potatoes some 7,000 years ago, and it took time for their virtues to be recognized across the world. The Europeans were hesitant to consume potatoes because they were not mentioned in the Bible. They were convinced their absence meant they were not only evil but poisonous, and there is a bit of truth to the poisonous claim. When a potato is exposed to light it will begin to develop green patches of chlorophyll on its surface, and while chlorophyll itself is not toxic, the green indicates the presence of solanine which is a toxic alkaloid that should not be consumed.

Potatoes are a staple most countries rely on and are harvested somewhere in the world every month of the year making them readily available. They come in a wide array of colors and there are some 2,000 varieties from which to choose.

Imagine all of the Mr. Potato Heads we could create with those.


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