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Curious Nature: How the potato took root in Eagle County

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Around 8,000 years in the past, the Incan folks invented an ingenious solution to cultivate the wild potato, which contained toxic compounds referred to as solanine and tomatine.
Courtesy picture

A.A. Milne as soon as mentioned, “If a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.”

Described as the poor man’s staple, the humble potato has fueled the rise and fall of civilizations and was integral to Eagle County’s early improvement. The potato plant’s distinctive construction permits it to thrive in harsh environments the place different crops battle to take root.

The birthplace of the trendy potato was amongst towering peaks, 22,000 ft excessive in the Andean mountains. Around 8,000 years in the past, the Incan folks invented an ingenious solution to cultivate the wild potato, which contained toxic compounds referred to as solanine and tomatine.



These toxins have been thought to guard the potato from pests however posed a problem for human consumption. The Incan folks noticed that ingesting a small quantity of clay together with the potatoes neutralized the poison. Over time, wild potatoes have been selectively bred to be much less poisonous. However, toxic varieties, valued for his or her means to resist chilly, are nonetheless bought in Peruvian marketplaces immediately (together with a little bit of clay, in fact).

To perceive the potato’s success, one must get to the root of how potatoes thrive in mountainous environments. As potato vegetation develop, their leaves photosynthesize sugars that are transformed into starch. The starch molecules are transported underground to be safely saved in nutrient-packed tubers.