This essay discusses the importance and effects of the potato throughout history, both positive and negative. Economy, politics, folklore and much more are talked about in detail.

Essay by EnthENd51984College, UndergraduateA+, March 2004

download word file, 2 pages 5.0

"My idea of heaven is a great big baked potato and someone to share it with", Oprah Winfrey once said. Though meaning to be humorous, Oprah's statement truly summarizes the effect and influence of the potato on world history as we know it. Additionally, it shows what an intricate part the potatoes plays in the past, present and future of the human race. Opposing these positive aspects, many negative aspects exist as well, which deserve to be recognized.

The most commonly remembered fault of potatoes relates to the Irish Potato Famine. During this period in history, a plague ravaged the potato crops of Ireland, rendering many Irish people out of work and out of food, due to their overdependence on the product. A lack of food led to mass starvation and decimation of a large percentage of the population. Close to two million died, many of these bodies remaining unburied.

Clearly, this relates to the Black Plague, occurring in Europe only five centuries earlier in the 1300's. During the Black Plague, one third of the European population perished, with dead bodies lining the streets. This scene of total and utter hopelessness became Ireland after there main cash crop failed. Many Irish people immigrated into America in hopes of a better life, yet when they arrived, they were greeted with a great amount of discrimination and equally bad living conditions. Another effect of the potato damage was price inflation, due to there past capitalistic approach on the economy. This is similar to Spain and the Ming dynasty during the time of the silver trade. The Spanish and Chinese were so dependent on silver that once this product had lost its value, both nations went into decline. With the price inflation, destitute farmers were not able to pay rent...