There are many reasons why the Irish eat so much potato, it’s an important food source throughout the year, and it’s also a staple in their diet. In addition, the potato can be affected by blight.
The potato as a staple of the irish diet
Potatoes are the fourth most important crop in the world. They deliver a wide variety of nutrients to your body. They are hearty, versatile, and easy to grow. In Ireland, potatoes are eaten in a variety of dishes.
Before potatoes came to Ireland, Irish diets revolved around meat and grain. It was hard to grow wheat in the northern climate, so oats and peas were common. Historical records also point out that people ate plenty of dairy products.
By the 18th century, potato was being cultivated on a large scale in Ireland. A typical cottier family would eat about eight pounds of potato a day.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, potatoes became increasingly important in Irish cuisine. The potato economy in Dublin also grew. Farmers began spraying their crops with chemicals to prevent disease.
In the years before the potato famine, the poorer classes in Ireland were largely reliant on potato for their food needs. However, when the potato crop was poor, many people began to suffer. This lead to a famine in Ireland that killed a million people.
Until 1860, a single acre of potato could provide enough food for a family to survive. Many farmers sold potatoes to food-deficient regions. But the blight of unusual character in 1845 devastated the potato crop in Ireland.
The potato blight
The potato blight was one of the main causes of the Great Famine in Ireland. Although there had been small blights in the decades before, this was the first outbreak that killed a large number of people.
Potato blight was caused by a fungus called Phytophthora infestans. This fungus can rot up to 15 mm deep. It wreaks havoc in wet and cool conditions. Moreover, it has a relatively simple life cycle.
When scientists discovered the oomycete’s capabilities, they isolated it in 1882. However, it did not go away. After a 40-year famine, scientists discovered a cure.
While the famine was over, the disease continued to be a problem for rural and urban areas in Ireland. Many tenants had to leave their land as it became insolvent. Another million Irish were forced to flee as refugees.
Even wealthy people were susceptible to the infection. In fact, the disease killed more people than starvation did.
Although the famine did not end until the 1850s, it is still a cause of significant concern. It destroyed the primary food source of millions of people, causing emigration of countless numbers. Not only that, it also contributed greatly to the Irish’s quest for independence.
Scientists concluded that the fungus was responsible for hundreds of crop failures throughout the world. As a result, new potato cultivars were developed that were resistant to HERB-1.
The potato as a food source throughout the year
The potato was an important food source throughout the year in Ireland. This food was introduced to the country in the 1500s by Spanish conquistadors. By the 18th century, it became the staple crop of the Irish population. It was also considered to be one of the earliest cultivated foods.
It is part of the Solanaceae family. It is believed to have originated in the Andes of South America.
Although potatoes are not native to Ireland, they adapted quickly to the climate of the Irish island. They were able to grow successfully in the cool moist soil of the island. A fertilized potato field would feed a family of six for a year. In addition, it could be stored for the winter months.
By the 1830s, about 30 to 35 percent of the population in Ireland depended on the potato as their primary food. It was a cheap, nutritious and versatile food.
Potato was a great food source for the poor. But it also brought about a dangerous dependence on the harvest. As the Irish potato famine raged, more and more people died from malnutrition and starvation.
Potato blight, or late blight, was a disease that infected the potatoes. Due to the disease, half of the potato crops in 1845 failed. Several hundred thousand people died from this fungus.