He starts prehistorically with a toxic tuber (that’s a chunk of stem), wild and beautiful near Lake Titicaca in South America, and ends with the contribution of the Chinese-developed spud, Cooperation 88, to the French-fried contemporary prosperity of the Peoples’ Republic, taking in horribly consequential 18th-century European population increases along the way. (Of course the industrial revolution was but the byproduct of spare labour brought into being by the potato’s perfect package of nutritious calories.) Each chapter is discrete in content and manner, yet densely connected to the rest. Wonderful: to understand the whole world through a single crisp.
The Untold History of the Potato
— By Vera Rule
Copyright Guardian News and Media Limited 2009