Potatoes are one of the world’s most harvested crops ever since their introduction to people outside the Andes about four centuries ago – a fact especially true for the 11 countries that consume the most potatoes in the world. Together with wheat, rice and maize, potatoes for the four largest crops in the world and simultaneously – four staple foods in any part of the world together with meat, which we wrote about in our list of the 10 countries that eat the most meat.
Potatoes are thought to have originated from the area around Peru and following their discovery and hundreds of years of selective breeding, today you can find more than a thousand different potato sorts. Naturally they are common throughout the Americas and were first discovered and domesticated there. After the Spanish first set foot on the continent, the potatoes were brought back on their ships and became an easy to raise, highly nutritious food which is said to be responsible for a big part of the Old World’s growth throughout the 18th and 19th century.
With close to five thousand different types of the plant all around the world, potatoes continue to change due to selective growing. However, a Canadian study shows that modern potatoes do not hold the same nutritional value as the ones from decades ago, having lost all or huge portions of certain contained vitamins and minerals. Other than that, the plant contains an abundance of different substances, albeit not in great quantities. Being rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, phosphorus and vitamin C, a well-grown, natural potato can be a healthy part of any meal. However, only the fruits of the plant are edible. Other parts such as the stem, leaves and tubers (the thin root-like things growing out of the potato) are non-consumable due to their toxicity. Don’t be afraid, though – you can’t get severe poisoning from them. At worst you can give yourself some inconvenient stomach problems. Let’s take a look at the countries that are far from afraid of that.