Monday, October 3, 2011

Famine

Children gathering potatoes on a large farm in Maine, October 1940. Photo by Jack Delano.
Photographs Division, Library of Congress
When the Spanish brought the potato back to Europe, they misunderstood what part of the plant they were suppose to eat. When they ate the leaves of the potato plant (which are poisonous), it made them very sick. Because of this experience, the potato became an outcast for a long time.

It was only fed to animals and eaten by the very poor. People refused to eat it even when they were starving. It has only been in the last 200 years that the potato has become a popular food. In 1845 it had become the main food in Ireland. They experienced a devastating blow to their crop when disease destroyed it. 

Over one and a half million people starved to death as a result. Disease was easily spread through the malnourished communities and the death toll continued to rise. Another million emigrated because of the famine. During a ten year period, some areas on Ireland had their population fall by 30%. 

When I was looking at a list of famines throughout the world, I was surprised to find there is almost always a significant famine going on somewhere in the worldIn 1985, the United States created a Famine Early Warning System to try to predict such events. 

With all the preparations that are taken to predict such events, it is difficult to predict all future events. A good reminder of the vulnerability of our food. The crops of the world are vulnerable to disease, weather, natural disasters, drought, and other unforeseen difficulties. Also, we are so blessed to live in a time that food can be so easily preserved.

 What will you do to prepare today?

4 comments:

Diana said...

Wow, I love potatoes, in fact, I'm eating hashbrowns with eggs right now for lunch! I didn't know their leaves were poisonous though. Very interesting.

Linda said...

Sounds like a yummy lunch! I love potatoes too.

mimi said...

I prepared a cut up red potatoe dish baked with sea salt a little olive oil, Mrs Dash,tossed. I Sprinkle that with sprinkling nutrirional yeast on top, cover and bake, Yummy! I served 60 people with this dish for a surprise party for hubbie this summer, it was a hit, and now a family favorite.

Linda said...

Wow that sounds really good! Thanks for sharing that, I will have to try it.