Potato Trivia

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Key Nutrients

potato nutrition infoPotatoes are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.They have fewer calories than a grapefruit, more potassium than a banana and more usable iron than any other vegetable.

  • Peru's Inca Indians were the first to cultivate potatoes around 200 B.C. The potatoes they grew ranged in size from a small nut to an apple, and in colors from red and gold to blue and black. The Incas also used potatoes to measure time - correlating units of time by how long it took potatoes to cook.
  • The Spanish conquistadors discovered the potato in 1537 in the Andean village of Sorocota. They took potatoes with them on their return trip to Europe, where it had a difficult time being accepted. The potato, a member of the nightshade family, was considered by many to be poisonous or evil. With the help of Prussia's King Frederick William, France's Antoine-August Parmentier, and England's Sir Walter Raleigh - who introduced the potato to Ireland, the potato was soon popularized throughout Europe.
  • The first potatoes arrived in North America in 1621 when Captain Nathaniel Butler, then Governor of Bermuda, sent two large cedar chests containing potatoes and other vegetables to Francis Wyatt, Governor of Virginia at Jamestown.
  • It reputedly took seven transatlantic crossings before the potato gained acceptance in America. In fact, the potato did not really become popular until discovered by Benjamin Franklin. While ambassador to France, he attended a banquet hosted by Parmentier at which the potato was served 20 different ways. Franklin returned to America singing the praises of the potato as the ultimate vegetable. Americans followed the lead of trendsetting Franklin, and soon the potato was being cultivated in the colonies and in remote regions of the western frontier.
  • French fries were introduced to Americans when President Thomas Jefferson served them at the White House.
  • Potato chips were invented by mistake. The year was 1853, and Railroad Magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt was dining at a fashionable resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. He sent his fried potatoes back to the kitchen complaining they were too thick. To spite his haughty guest, Chef George Crum sliced some potatoes paper thin, fried them in hot oil, and salted them. To everyone's surprise, Vanderbilt loved his "Saratoga Crunch Chips", and potato chips have been popular ever since.
  • By 1825 potatoes were being harvested from the Fort Vancouver garden of Dr. John McLoughlin, who specifically ordered them to keep his soldiers from developing scurvy. According to the earliest records, the fort garden produced 900 bushels of potatoes, and in 1832 more than 15,000 bushels of potatoes were gathered. Much of McLoughlin's seed potatoes went to start Oregon pioneer gardens.
  • Potatoes have been an important crop in Oregon since it became a state. During the gold rush in Northern California, surplus potatoes from Oregon were packed by mule train, and later by wagon train to the miners. In 1849, four bushels of Oregon potatoes were selling for $500 in San Francisco. Oregon farmers thus dug potatoes and struck gold.
  • Oregon potato farmers harvested 35,000 acres in 2006 yielding over 1.8 billion pounds of potatoes.
  • Oregon has one of the highest yields per acre of potatoes in the world at 53,000 pounds of potatoes per acre!
  • 75% of Oregon potatoes are processed into food products such as frozen french fries for fast food restaurants, hash browns, chips, dehydrated flakes, soups, etc. Up to 15% of these products go to foreign markets such as Japan, Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines, Mexico, South America, etc.
  • Nearly 25% of all french fries exported from the United States come from Oregon.
  • Oregon potatoes account for more value added production than any other crop grown in the state. This results in the marketing of over $250 million worth of fresh and processed potatoes each year.
  • The average American eats 134 pounds of potatoes a year, or over 365 potatoes per person per year - that's an average of more than one potato a day.
  • The potato is the second most consumed food in the United States - trailing only after milk products.
  • Contrary to a common misconception, potatoes are not high in calories. One medium sized potato contains 110 calories, while a one-cup serving of rice has 225 calories, and a cup of pasta has 155 calories.
  • Potatoes are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. One medium sized potato has fewer calories than a grapefruit, more potassium than a banana, and more usable iron than any other vegetable. Potatoes are also high in fiber, and loaded with complex carbohydrates. And best of all, potatoes are fat-free.