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Fun Facts About Potatoes

Updated on June 21, 2011

Potato Fun Facts

Few underground tubers inspire agricultural economies they way that potatoes do. Human beings all over the world eat these wonderful globes of carbohydrates cooked into innumerable recipes. We salute the humble potato and all for which it stands. Without vegetables such as this, hamburgers would seem strangely lonely when served on trays at fast food restaurants.

Potato plants grow above ground as herbaceous perennials. "Perrenial" implies that the same plant will reproduce through repeated growing seasons, assuming that predators and diseases are kept at bay. "Herbaceous" plants produce leaves and stems, but tend to die down to ground-level when the current growing season terminates. We can easily see how important potato plants are to world of international plant biology.

The luscious potato.
The luscious potato.

Potato Nutrition

Potatoes taste best when cooked in animal fat, but they do bring some nutrition to the plate. Of particular significance to the chemical industry are the phytochemicals, such as carotenoids and natural phenols, packed into every bite.

A medium potato carries about 24 grams of carbohydrates. Most of the carbohydrates are starch and most of the starch is actually digestible. The undigestible starch, sometimes called fiber, provides some health benefits that may include insulin regulation, cancer prevention, and regularity.

Many eaters are not aware that the skin of a potato packs many of the available nutrients. Should you find yourself sitting in front of a luscious baked potato (with or without bacon), be sure to include some skin in each forkful.

Potato Commissions

The State of Idaho sponsors a Potato Commission. Every 100 pounds of Idaho potatoes is taxed at the rate of about 12.5 cents. This money is funneled to a wide array of potato-related endeavors including potato publicity and potato awareness. Nine potato commissioners preside over the the Idaho Potato Commission. The term Idaho Potato has been trademarked and may only be applied to potatoes grown in... Idaho.

Oregon also boasts a potato commission, one of 25 total agricultural commodity commissions in the state. Oregon administrators subdivided the state into 5 different potato-growing regions:

  • Blue Mountain,
  • Central Oregon,
  • Klamath,
  • Malheur, and
  • Willamette Valley.

Commissioners from each of the regions are appointed to the board. This commission refuses to take all the credit for potatoes: they observe, on their web site, that Peru's Inca Indians were the first to cultivate potatoes around 200 B.C. They also note that the first potatoes were shipped to North America in 1621, coming ashore in Jamestown, Virginia. They probably did not travel first-class.

California possesses a Sweet Potato Commission. Depending on when this is being read, the National Sweet Potato Convention will be / will have been held at the St Regis Resort in Dana Point, California. 5-star hotel rooms will / will have cost $245/ per night.

Potato Significance

According to the United Nations FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), the world produced 314 million tonnes of potatoes in 2008. They credit China as the most prolific potato-growing nation on Earth.

Spuds in Space

NASA selected a potato to be the first vegetable to be grown in space. Back in 1995, a potato plant was whisked away form the Earth to the International Space Station in geosynchronous orbit. The plants took up residence in theAstroculture plant growth facility.Five small potatoes were grown in zero-gravity. No bacon was forthcoming, so breakfast consisted of hash browns and Tang.

Take the Potato Quiz

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    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 6 years ago

      Ever heard of a potato gun? Launching a variety of spuds - raw and baked for different effects/uses.

    • lilibees profile image

      lilibees 6 years ago

      I like fresh mashed as well with the peels still in tact.

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 6 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Excellent. I haven't met too many spuds I don't like. Instant mashed potatoes are one of those though. Good fresh mashed are the ticket.

      The Frog

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      Making shapes out of the mashed potatos is a traditional past-time for kids.

      I'm one of those people who likes potato skins.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Yea, drbj, what happened to the rice?

      P.S. Bob is specifically a "couch potato"

    • Fossillady profile image

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Good to know nicomp!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      nicomp - who woulda thunk it. China leads the world in potato production. And I useta think it was rice.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @Tom Whitworth : Oh man! I messed up the quiz. It's fixed now.

      PS: Wendy's rocks!

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      Bob is a potato? I just had a huge Wendy's baked Bob loaded with butter and sour cream along with a bowl of chile. The potato seemed to need something so I melted some shreaded cheddar on it. It's great to be gaining weight back on purpose. Ive come from 113 to 138.