6 Things You Didn’t Know About Potatoes

Food & Wine: 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Potatoes
Poutine-Style Twice-Baked Potatoes © Con Poulos
By Justine Sterling Posted August 19, 2014

We don’t need a reason to praise potatoes. Mashed, fried, boiled or baked—they make any meal better. But since it’s National Potato Day, let’s take some time to really get to know this versatile tuber.

Here, a few facts you can drop tonight as you sit down to your traditional National Potato Day dinner of fries, baked potatoes and hash browns.

1. Potatoes are old.
Incan farmers in the Andes Mountains were cultivating potatoes way back in 200 BC.

2. Potatoes fight scurvy.
If you’re heading out on a long sea voyage, skip the limes and instead bring a few sacks of potatoes. The tubers are packed with vitamin C, which will help prevent scurvy.

3. Potatoes were once the height of fashion.
Marie Antoinette used to accessorize with potato blossoms. She wore them in her hair, inspiring all the other fashionable French ladies to do the same. Around the same time, Louis XVI also spruced up his look by wearing the blossoms in his buttonhole.

4. Potatoes were the first food to be grown in space.
In 1995, potato plants were successfully cultivated in space, thanks to technology developed by NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

5. The average American eats 140 pounds of potatoes every year.
But that’s nothing compared to Belarus, where each person eats nearly 400 pounds of potatoes on average every year.

6. Thomas Jefferson brought french fries to the US.
Aside from being the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson’s primary contribution to the US was introducing his fellow countrymen to french fries. He allegedly offered potatoes “served in the French manner” at a White House dinner in 1802.

Related: 35 Great Recipes for Potatoes
America's Most Decadent Potato Dishes
How to Make French Fries

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