Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Reading this line in an eighteenth-century book of British natural history, "Potatoes have prevailed in this little district, by means of premiums, within these twenty years only; and are much esteemed here now by the poor, who would scarce have ventured to taste them in the last reign.” I am reminded that without the potato this population explosion which has coincided with the Industrial Revolution would never have occurred. The introduction of the American potato to the masses of Europe was an intentional act by the landed and wealthy to alleviate malnutrition and starvation. And from these survivors come the descendants who are filling out this fragile world. In my lifetime from less than 3 billion at my birth to well over six billion as I turn fifty.

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