Potato – toxic and not poison

Harvest potatoes

Potato plant is one of the plant types cultivated widely in agriculture in many countries. And potato is one of the most popular fruits used in the world especially in the western countries. It could be considered main food in the west as rice of the Asian.

Potato plant and its path in the development

Potato plant was believed to originate in the Andes, and first domesticated in Peru and Bolivia around 5000-8000 years BC. It was then widely cultivated in America countries. Around 16th century, the Spanish spread potato to Spain, and then in 17th and 18th century it was spread to Europe popularly. The farmers in Europe accepted potato slowly in the first time, but quickly then, it became an important food to European till now.

Nowadays, potato plant is widely cultivated and used as food in many countries around the world.

Potato and some features

Potato field
Potato field

Potato is a member of Solanaceae family which plants are herbaceous perennials. The potato plants could be high up to 60cm. Their flowers could be white or colored (pink, red, blue, purple), but the stamens are only yellow.

The fruits from potato plants are small green berry and contain about 300 seeds inside and could be used to cultivate as new crop. However, those fruits as well as other parts of the potato plants (except the tubers) are toxic and inedible.

The potato tubers are formed from the stems underground. Tuber skin of the plant which produces white flower is mostly white while those of plants with other color flowers are pinkish. The plants will turn to slight yellow when the tubers mature and they could be harvested then.

Nowadays, there are still hundreds types of wild potatoes grown at their origin area, but many types are also cross-bred to create new plants with better quality and higher quantity in order to meet the needs of the world food.

Potato as food

Potato tubers are starchy and contain numbers of nutrients like vitamin C, B6, folate, iron, zinc, potassium…They are used as food popularly around the world. They could be considered as main food of the western especially Europe. Potato could be cooked directly to thousands of dishes or be used to produce other food like bread, noodle, pasta…

The production of potato in these recent years was accounted not lower than 300 million tons per year. Two third of the quantity are used as food, and the rest is used to produced starch and animal food.

Potato and toxicity

Almost parts of the potato plant are toxic. Among those, tuber is lowest and the flower is highest in toxicity. The toxic compound in the plants protects them from the predators.

The tubers are actually parts of the stems but grown underground, so after harvested, if placed under the sunlight, they could continue their photosynthetic and make the skin to become green, the toxicity will be increase then. Although cooked at high temperature (over 170o C or 338o F) could destroy this toxic compound and other toxicity from the farming, but we should avoid to use the green potato tubers the best.

The great thing is, the experts have continued researching to create the types of potatoes which produce the less toxicity as possible and of course the current types of potatoes with rightly cooking are still safe to use.