Potato Trade History

The Potato Trade History is colourful and  a popular topic. I will NOT regurgitate here what has already been written elsewhere about the topic. And - I will be happily providing you with links to the quality contributions I have identified in my research.  

What I will do though, is to comment on potatoes and their trade history from a Meta perspective...

It is often said that potatoes changed the world. They did. 

Like the tomato, the potato hails from the Americas.  It traces its origin to Peru but potatoes of today do not look anything like their ancestors. Centuries of selective of breeding have seen to that.  Potatoes have caused famine and  are being held responsible for nation building, to the extent that even today potatoes are placed on the grave of Frederick the Great of Prussia

Potato trade history nearly was a non-event by the way, as it took some time for people to realise that the plant's tuber was the consumable part rather than what grew above the soil!

As a food staple,  the potato is in a class of its own. In those countries where potatoes are the norm on one's plate, consumers pay little attention to how potatoes get into the store.  They are just there.  What has changed is how they get there and how they are being sold. 

There is no such thing as a produce department without potatoes. But where in the past 10 kg and 20kg bags of potatoes would be sitting there in great numbers, waiting to be manhandled into shopping trolleys, bags of these dimensions are less often seen today. Far more en vogue are 1kg boxes of gourmet potatoes, 2.5 kg bags of varietal potatoes and, in any event, washed washed spuds rather than potatoes with great lumps of soil attached to them.

Today's consumer is after convenience and all that entails. There are some excellent publications available on the topic, starting with the Cambridge World History of Food.

Global innovation in the potato industry tends to be ermerging from the Netherland more often than from other jurisdiction, which is why anone seriously studying aardappels today will end up in Holland sooner or later, regardless. Visit any Dutch supermarket fresh produce department and you can not only buy fresh potatoes in any colour, size or pack weight, but they are also, as a matter of course, available in peeled, slided, diced and parboiled form, right there in the department.  This does, of course, pose the question of how does one define "Fresh"?  - This will occur elsewhere on this website.  

Needless to say the Dutch are also very active in exporting their potato expertise, if not the crop itself.  Here is an example of that Dutch potato export innvation - in other words, the next chapter of Potato Trade History is being written as you read these words.

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