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Potatoes- The Food of the Gods!!

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posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 05:02 PM
International Potato Center

The world we live in today is fraught with danger, disease, death and just plain old bad news. This is a lighter story about how a simple tuber, a gift from the gods was instrumental in the formation of life as we know it, and how the gift of the potato saved an early civilization.

Some of you know that I have a particular 'affinity' for the potato. Must be a past-life thing.

Mods: I struggled for a place to put this. The potato is inexorably bound to ancient civilizations.

There are plants that over time have taken on profound ritual significance for humankind. The potato is one of them. Anthropologist Luis Millones, an expert on the beliefs and customs of Andean peoples, explores the world of magic and myth associated with this crop in the Andes.

The potato plays a central role in the myths and rituals that define the Andean vision of the world. In their conception of the universe, potatoes inhabit the Uku Pacha, or inner world, a place of seeds and corpses, of future and past, as opposed to the Kay Pacha, or the world of the present. This idea dates back to before the time of the Incas, who adopted the beliefs of the people they conquered.

Centuries before the rise of the Incas, the Moche culture (AD 100-600) flourished on Peru's north coast. Moche pottery often portrayed fruits and vegetables. One outstanding example, on display in Lima’s National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History, is a ceramic vessel resembling a potato. The link that the Moche saw between the potato and the supernatural world is evident in this piece in which figures of human beings and animals appear to sprout from the potato's eyes. This Moche pot could be interpreted as a portrayal of the birth of living beings (the first humans, the first llamas, etc.) from the paqarinas (places of origin), where contact could be made with the Uku Pacha, the realm of the potato.

In all ancient civilizations, people believed that they could control supernatural beings through the proper use of rituals. Ceremony is the food of the gods, and each part of a ceremony – a dance step, a coca leaf chewed or burnt as an offering – must be carried out according to age-old traditional prescriptions. There are records of specific ritual practices for the potato. The chronicler Pérez Bocanegra (1631) records that the roots of the plant were tied together with straw, “with many knots and bundles.” This was done during fasting, and it is said that the potato effigy also fasted, thereby reinforcing the commitment to abstinence of the person complying with the magic ritual. This practice alarmed the Spanish clergy, determined to put an end to idolatry.

During the Inca empire, unusual products of the harvest (such as twin potatoes or tubers that had grown together) were seen as good omens (Arriaga, 1968) and were regarded with reverence because people believed that they guaranteed the fertility of the fields. In colonial times, the Church fought in vain to stamp out the custom of keeping these potatoes. But this and other observances branded by the Spaniards as idolatry survived, and are still part of Peruvian folk religion.

One long tale at the start of Chapter Five recounts the myth of the god Huatya Curi, whose story is intimately tied to the potato. The meaning of his name is explained in the first lines of the story: “They say that fellow named Huatya Curi subsisted at the time just by baking potatoes in earth pits, eating them the way a poor man does, and people named him the Baked Potato Gleaner,” (Salomon and Urioste, 1991).

Huatya Curi is the personification of the potato. His power is masked by his lowly appearance, as he is covered with dirt and dressed in rags. But beneath the surface, he is full of surprises. Likewise, the potato comes from the inner world, but it is not inferior. It is characterized by the duality of the gods: they are both brilliant and obscure, but above all, they are powerful. From the intimacy of the soil, the potato speaks to its children, who in turn trust in it to maintain the balance of the worlds that make up the Andean universe.

According to an Andean legend, the people who planted the quinoa grain conquered the highland communities, planning to let them die out slowly by cutting back gradually on their food supplies. On the verge of starvation, the poor prayed to the Heavens. God sent them a handful of large, fleshy seeds which, when sown, grew into beautiful plants that embellished the highland plains with their purple flowers. The invaders showed no opposition, planning instead to confiscate the harvest. When the plants had withered and their fruits appeared to have ripened, the overlords invaded the fields and took what they assumed to be a bountiful harvest. Desperate and starving, the oppressed prayed to the Heavens once more, and they heard a voice saying: “Dig into the earth and pull out what I have hidden there to fool the evil and raise up the good.” They did as they were bid, and found, beneath the soil, the magnificent potatoes. The highlanders harvested all the tubers and hid them in secret stores. Every morning, they added a few potatoes to their hunger rations, and soon they grew strong enough to overthrow their oppressors. The overlords, seeing that they had been defeated, fled. Never again did they disturb the peace of the mountains.

It is too easy today to take things for granted. One such example- the lowly potato. Throughout history, it has not only been an integral part of the culture of ancient civilizations as even more modern civilizations have prospered with the potato and faltered without it.

Delivered by a sacred bird, straight from the gods, the unassuming potato helped an ancient people win their freedom from tyrannical oppressors.

Have you hugged a spud today? (Yay potatoes!!)

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 05:39 PM
I deeply loves me some taters

It really is a magnificent plant, and I think, like you, it was instrumental in our history.

I think, as well, maize plays a large role. Ever delve into the history of that little gem?

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 05:42 PM
reply to post by Jomina

Not yet. Today is potatoes.

Maybe Next week can be Maize.

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 05:49 PM
Perhaps you would be interested to hear about the potato famine in Ireland in the late1800's (?). I thinnk the famine was all over the UK but because it was mainly a potato problem the Irish sufferred greatly.

Hang on here's a link or two...

A rotten source which should never be used
A nicer link

Not very ancient but a worthy chapter in the history books.

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 05:55 PM
reply to post by KSPigpen

instrumental in the formation of life as we know it, and how the gift of the potato saved an early civilization.

Have you ever wondered how the world lived without even flourished before the potato was exported from South America?

The same question could be asked about corn or maize!

Then after the potato found mass acceptance in Europe it again had its revenge in the form of "Late Blight" causing the potato famine all over Europe but especially Ireland where there was an over reliance on the crop.

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 05:59 PM
I was thinking about trying to grow some potatoes in my little garden this year.

I need to get some seed potatoes and have at it.

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 06:00 PM
reply to post by and14263

i clicked on your nicer link and it had a diet ad on a page describing a famine, lmao.

potatos can be grown quite intensively, you get a lot of potatos by the acre, they have fairly few pests and are fairly easy to grow. they're a great source of carbohydrates. you can cook them effectiively any way you like and they keep for a long time if you just leave them in a dark cool place. handy crop.

to bad i hate the damn things, meh.

[edit on 23/7/09 by pieman]

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 06:05 PM

Originally posted by pieman
reply to post by and14263

to bad i hate the damn things, meh.

[edit on 23/7/09 by pieman] room for potato haters up in here.
How can you hate potatoes? You don't like ANY KIND of potatoes?

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 06:06 PM

Originally posted by and14263
Perhaps you would be interested to hear about the potato famine in Ireland in the late1800's (?). I thinnk the famine was all over the UK but because it was mainly a potato problem the Irish sufferred greatly.

Hang on here's a link or two...

A rotten source which should never be used
A nicer link

Not very ancient but a worthy chapter in the history books.

And Britain was responsible for most of the deaths.Yet another notch on the evil things britain has done list.I love potatoes aswell,especially roast potatoes.I dont get along with people who don't eat the skin.Doesn't surprise me ancient peoples would put some significance on such an easy to grow,nutritious staple food given enough time.

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 06:12 PM

Sam : What we need is a few good taters.
Gollum : What's taters, precious? What's taters, eh?
Sam : Po-tay-toes. Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew. Lovely big golden chips with a nice piece of fried fish.
Sam : Even you couldn't say no to that.
Gollum : Oh yes we could. Spoilin' nice fish. Give it to us raw and wrigglin'. You keep nasty chips.
Sam : You're hopeless.

9 out of 10 Hungry Hobbits agree that Taters are the Food of the Gods.

So, I know that in Western Civilization, the foundational basis for any City-based culture was the discovery of Beer. This was because it was the primary method for Agrarian societies to keep the harvest available without spoiling through the Winter months. As potatoes can keep for a long period of time without spoiling, perhaps that was the reason they were the foundation of Central/South American cultures?

Very interesting stuffs.

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 06:31 PM
It seems that most cultures have their different staple crop that allowed them to thrive, or even threatened them with extinction when faced with blight.

We put so much emphasis sometimes on technology. A satellite in space that can zap fast missiles with a laser beam is surely more important than a meager little potato. Apparently not. When all of the shiny buildings are gone, when the whizzamadingers stop whizzing, we will need desperately to get refamiliarized with the importance of the gifts that we were given long ago.

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 06:44 PM
I know that some of us have no choice but to be all worked up about TSHTF kinda stuff. I know you are ALL wondering about the answer to THIS question!

Could I survive on Nothing but Potatoes and Milk?

....yeah, apparently you can, but you'd be miss your RDA of molybdenum. You might want to pack around 45 micro grams of that for each day your living on the taters and white stuff.

posted on Jul, 24 2009 @ 12:13 PM
reply to post by KSPigpen

Wow, star and flag for you.

When I started reading I didn't think I cared much about potatoes.

Now I am potato educated!

posted on Jul, 24 2009 @ 01:24 PM
reply to post by KSPigpen

It is more vulnerable to things like disease than Amaranth.

The potato famines

At this current point due to how tough it is, I will take
Giant Golden Amaranth over this crop.

Just my opinion.

posted on Jul, 24 2009 @ 01:40 PM
I love potatoes.

So does she. She's probably responsible for the potato famine...

Really though, they're super filling. But also completely starch.

posted on Jul, 24 2009 @ 03:00 PM
note to self: grow and stockpile potatoes. ***Munches on yummy homemade fry**

posted on Jul, 31 2009 @ 12:46 AM
Cool info, thanks.

has this been mentioned yet...?

(i looked but i did not see in thread.)

Produce farmers in Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England - already struggling with one of the wettest, coolest summers in recent history - are now battling late blight, a fungus with tiny spores spread by the wind that rots tomato andpotato. It is the same disease that was responsible for the 19th-century Irish potato famine.

posted on Jul, 31 2009 @ 12:58 AM
reply to post by plumranch

More accurately the overwhelming taxes the british levied on Irish cereal crops was to blame for the famine - the Irish kept their potatoes out in the field, where there would keep, and where the british would have to dig them out themselves to get htem. Naturally the Brits didn't bother (having harvested potatoes before, I can't blame them) and as a result, the Irish diet centered on potatoes. When the blight struck, the Irish had neither wheat nor potatoes.

The blight itself was mostly due to the practice of, you know, leaving them in the fields so the british wouldn't snatch them away, too.

posted on Jul, 31 2009 @ 05:18 AM
reply to post by TheWalkingFox

but you are mistaken,
the potato was introduced into to europe becausen armies could trample over the ground without destroying the crop, as would happen with grains.
And mainly as a livestock feed, leaving wheat and the other cerals fro human consumption.
When marie antoinette, made the famed comment, "well let them eat cake"
it was in response to the poor rejecting eating potatoes, which were in plentiful supply, because they felt that only animals ate from the ground, and people ate bread.
The incident was in a rural area of france that was suffering from an long and arduous change of climate.
There were persistent summer rains that were spoiling the wheat harvest, and during one such time of bad harvests, there was no wheat to make flour and thereby bread, which was the staple of the french diet. At the same time there were plentiful harvests of potatoes, which thrived in the cool and damp climate.
Potatoes were literaly piled in the streets while people starved to death for a lack of bread.
The crown ordered that ample supplies of potatoes be made available, to satiate the hunger of the people.
The people refused to eat the potatoes, and upon hearing of this, M.A. replied to a minister with the now famous reply.
The english made an attempt at bioengineering by introducing a hybrid potato into ireland, it was called the lumper.
It was a hybrid of a couple different species of potato that grew reasonably well in ireland, but had serious shortcomings, they werent very palatable being granular and starchy and they had litle resistance to variuous potato maladies.
But they grew well, and the abundance of them led to a population explosion in ireland in the 18th century.
Also the 1815 eruption of tambora threw the world into a resurgant cold snap (mini ice age) that effected the whole planet.
Un seasonably cool weather allowed the blight to take hold and ravage the un resistant irish varieties of potatoes.
During the time of the blight, areas of ireland that had never seen really harsh weather, in recent memory, experienced severe changes in climate.
Also during this time, it was the practice of many tenament farmers to build their houses in the hollows of hilly land, much in the fashion of the hobbits in the greatest movie series of all time LOTR.
They would pick a small draw and put up a face wall and a roof and dig it out and you have a house.
During the harshest winter of the time of the blight, it snowed so much that these small dwelling were effectively buried in snow, and countless numbers of people perished.

The whole potato famine episode was as much a comentary on inadequate human belief systems as anything else.
First the british terribly mistreated the native irish.
Secondly, religion played a huge part in what happened on a social level.
The british knew things were going badly in ireland, but chose to do nothing about it even though they had the resources to minimise the suffering to some degree.
It was a popular notion at the time that when ever something like that happens on a large scale, it was "The Will Of God", and who are humans to interfere with the will of god.
If God deems it nescecary for people to die of starvation, then who are we to try and stave off that starvation. God willed the people to die, then so be it.
That was the attitude of the day.

Thirdly due to some odd aversion to eating from the sea, the irish killed and ate the cattle. goats, sheep, dogs, cats, rats, and whaterver birds they could and resorted to eating grass and bark, before they dug for clams and other shelfish that were in abundance on the coast.
They didnt fish the bountiful seas that surround ireland for food. Those same seas that make ireland the #1 exporter of sea food from the EU today.

On a side note, the potato is far from perfect as a food stuff. When potatoes are cooked at certain tempuratures they form a particluar chemical. This chemical causes a spike in blood sugar immeideiately after eating said cooked potatoes.
No other staple food produces this reaction.
Its my opinion that in some populations diabetes is a response to eating potatoes in uber large qyts.

posted on Jul, 31 2009 @ 06:04 AM
reply to post by punkinworks

wasn't there was large scale trade outward from ireland in grain, livestock and butter throughout the famine, the irish simply couldn't afford to buy it. the same is true of sea food, the ability to collect food from the sea relies on your proximity to it or your ability to pay for it. to say there is an aversion suggests that it was an option for people, this isn't true.

the tragedy of the situation was that the famine doesn't seem to have occurred because there was any food shortage as such, it occurred because the irish were unable to afford any food but one because of social policies enacted from london and enforced by people who set themselves apart from the native population.

when this single food crop, affordable only because it was seen as an inferior form of animal feed (below turnips and beets), failed, the poor of ireland couldn't afford to eat and starved.

the famine wasn't a result of religious attitudes or cold weather or anything else you mentioned, it was a result of premeditated social engineering pushing a people seen as inferior to the edge and nature giving them the tip that toppled them.

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