The Enormous Potato.pdf
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The industrial production of potato starch started in the mid-18th century and was originally based on the development of seed potatoes. It wasn’t until 1865 that the first industrial-scale production of potato starch started in the United States. By the end of the 19th century, the potato had become one of the most valuable food crops in the world.
Potato cultivation spread to other European countries, and with it the potato diet. The available potato starch was one of the first truly industrially processed foods. It used to be that most of the starch was extracted from the tubers and used as a feed for dairy cattle. Today, most of the starch is extracted from corn and wheat using the same method.
For the first time, potato starch could be bought commercially, becoming the first revolutionary product of the Industrial Revolution. Today, 50% of all potato starch is used to make paper products and 25% to make plastic packaging.
After the German potato famine of the 1840s, potato production was even more intensive. Farmers were encouraged to grow the crop in every available field and to apply as many fertilizer chemicals as possible. The resulting cultivation was intensive, chemical-dependant and highly prone to disease. The new problems were not taken seriously until the first World War in 1914.
Potatoes contain potassium and other minerals, such as magnesium, copper, phosphorus and manganese. Potassium is important for healthy muscles and nerves, and also for regulating the heartbeat.
Until then, potatoes had been considered a starch-producing crop, but Parmentier showed that potatoes could be used as a source of meat. He opened the way for the modern meat industry. The potato is about as rich in proteins as beef and lamb, and because it is an inexpensive crop, it could become an alternative to meat.
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