Potatoes are April’s harvest of the month. Look out for roasted potatoes on the Local Lunch Thursday menu.

Potatoes hail originally from Peru where they have been grown in Peru for more than 8,000 years. A recent survey found more than 4,000 varieties of potato grown in Peru. Many farmers have specific potatoes for fields for different altitudes, different sides of the mountain, and different precipitation levels.

Potatoes eventually found their way to Europe and in Ireland overtook other staple crops such as rutabagas. By 1800 the potato made up nearly 90% of Ireland’s harvest. Most of the island grew only one variety of potato – the Lumper. Between 1845 and 1852, nearly one million Irish starved or died of malnutrition and another one million emigrated when blight struck the Lumper potato crop.

While the potato can provide calories and moderate nutritional value cheaply, Americans do not consume potatoes healthily. Americans ate 42.4 pounds of fresh potatoes in 2005 as well as 53.6 pounds of frozen potatoes and 16 pounds of potato chips. Moderate consumption of non-fried potatoes can contribute to a healthy diet, but not if potato consumption decreases the amount of yellow, orange, and green vegetables consumed.

Harvest of the Month Potato Poster