“ The potato is the best gift from the
New World to the Old World "
The history of the potato has its roots in the Andes Mountains of South America , in the highlands of Peru , Bolivia and Colombia .
It is an austere region with fluctuating temperatures and elevations up to 15,000 feet. The tough pre-Columbian farmers first discovered and cultivated the potato some 7,000 years ago, becoming one of the most important elements in their diet due to its ruggedness, storage quality and its nutritional value. Western man did not come in contact with the potato until as late as 1537 when the Spanish conquered Peru.
Around 1780 the potato gained prominence in Europe , due to its ability to produce abundant, nutritious food, containing most of the vitamins needed for sustenance.
The history of the potato is the history of the people of the Andes . Here, terraces and cropping platforms testify to the high level of development reached by Andean civilizations, including their knowledge of agriculture and of hydraulic engineering. Many of the traditions of the pre-Hispanic peoples are still alive today in age-old techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation. Today, the potato is so common, plentiful and pervasive in the Western diet that the world cannot live without it.
* Words by the French scientist A. A. Parmentier