Sunday, June 05, 2011

Potato by John Reader

I have a new appreciation for the potato -  a vegetable I didn't like much as a child. John Reader takes you on a historical journey from ancient to modern times and examines how the potato has changed society.

I learned many things from this book. The potato is considered a near perfect food. If all you have to eat are potatoes, you won't starve compared to other common foods like wheat. It is a complete food group unto itself. It's also one crop that is largely dependent on chemicals to fight against late blight. On one hand it can raise a society out of poverty, on the other hand it can wipe you out when you only food succumbs to late blight.

The first few chapters of the book are dreadfully dull. I had the feeling that the author was giving his own opinions about ancient civilizations, human evolution, and the development of the potato. Who really knows as there is little to no dependable historical records. The book really peaked my interest starting with the chapter on the Irish potato famine. Many people can trace the migration of their ancestors to the potato. It was from this point in history that the reliance of the potato became clear. It was from then that humans discovered a way to fight blight - though to what side effects remains to be seen. The following chapters discuss the world wide distribution of the potato and more recent research and development.

I wish there had been just a little bit more science about the potato. I also wish there had been more pictures of the potatoes and areas that he discussed. In order to understand the significance of the potato, this book would be a good one to read.

Book rating: 4 stars


The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

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