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Food Plants. Upcoming Labs. Feb. 25 – Beverages March 2 – Herbs, Spices March 4 – Plant Fibers March 9 – Discussion of Pollan. Top agricultural products, by crop types (million metric tons) 2004 data. Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) [41].

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upcoming labs
Upcoming Labs
  • Feb. 25 – Beverages
  • March 2 – Herbs, Spices
  • March 4 – Plant Fibers
  • March 9 – Discussion of Pollan
top agricultural products by crop types million metric tons 2004 data
Top agricultural products, by crop types(million metric tons) 2004 data

Source:Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)[41]

top agricultural products by individual crops million metric tons 2004 data
Top agricultural products, by individual crops(million metric tons) 2004 data

Source:Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

plant storage organs
Plant Storage Organs

Some examples of storage organs in plants: (a) tap root of carrot (Daucus carota);

(b) bulb of onion (Allium sp.); (c) corm of crocus (Crocus sp.);

(d) rhizome of iris (Iris sp.); (e) root tuber of dahlia (Dahlia sp.);

(f) stem tuber of potato (Solanum tuberosum).

new foods to europe
New Foods to Europe
  • Alfred Crosby has gathered data which suggests the introduction of maize and potatoes alone allowed the doubling of Europe’s population in the period after Columbus’ discovery of America
  • Corn was important because of the very high yields possible from corn agriculture
new foods to europe16
New Foods to Europe
  • Potatoes were important because, unlike corn, they provided a complete set of amino acids (corn lacks lysine) - potatoes were great for poor people in Europe because they can be easily grown in areas of poor, depleted soil, they will grow well during a short growing season (typical of northern Europe) and they can even be left in the ground if necessary, so they are less sensitive to the timing of the harvest than competing poor-soil crops, such as rye, which must be harvested when the seeds are ripe or it will rot
ukrainian food
Ukrainian Food

Potato Pancakes Borsch

the potato comes to europe
The Potato Comes to Europe
  • The potato came to Europe about 1565 - at first, most people in Europe, including the Irish, used the potato as a back up for grain production, but by the end of the 17th century, it had become an important winter food; by the mid-eighteenth century it was a general field crop and provided the staple diet of small farmers during most of the year
lessons learned
Lessons learned?

“Whatever may be the misfortunes of Ireland, the potato is not implicated. It, on the contrary, has more than done its duty, in giving them bones and sinew cheap ... There is no other crop equal to the potato in the power of sustaining life and health.”

- Bain 1848

origin of sweet potato
Origin of Sweet Potato
  • Sweet Potato – Ipomoea batatas – was first domesticated in Peru about 5 or 6 thousand years ago – its culture spread through out South and Central America and the Caribbean region
  • The Arawak People called it batata which became corrupted into the word potato
  • It was brought to Europe by Columbus around 1500
sweet potato
Sweet Potato
  • Sweet potato is a tuberous root cultivated by vegetative propagation (cuttings)
  • It was a staple food throughout the Americas and also across the Polynesian islands – big question is how did it get to Polynesia – by people or by accident?

Plans for a balsa

  • wood raft – used
  • along coast of
  • South America
  • drawn by F.E.
  • Paris in 1841
polynesians to south america
Polynesians to South America?
  • It is more likely that Polynesians happened to cross the Pacific and obtained sweet potatoes directly from the South Americans
  • In most parts of the South Pacific, sweet potatoes are called kumara, very similar to the Peruvian word of cumara
  • However, in Hawaii, the sweet potato is called ‘uala, more similar to the Columbian word kuala - perhaps a couple of groups were in contact with South America
sweet potato agriculture
Sweet Potato Agriculture
  • Sweet Potato is rich in carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals – some of the carbohydrates are in the form of sugars rather than starch, hence the sweet taste
  • About 50% more calories than white potato, but slightly less protein
  • Two main varieties – a drier, starchier yellow-fleshed variety and a moister, sweeter, deeper orange variety
  • China dominates sweet potato cultivation, but also important in Japan and several African countries; increasing production in US
  • Cassava (Manihot esculenta), also called yucca or manioc, is a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae family
  • It is cultivated as an annual crop in many parts of the tropical world because it has a starchy tuberous root that is a major source of carbohydrates
  • The cassava root is long and tapered, with a firm homogeneous flesh encased in a detachable rind, about 1 mm thick, rough and brown on the outside.
  • Cassava roots are very rich in starch, and contain significant amounts of calcium (50 mg/100g), phosphorus (40 mg/100g) and vitamin C (25 mg/100g). However, they are poor in protein and other nutrients.
cassava agriculture
Cassava Agriculture
  • Wild populations of M. esculenta subspecies flabellifolia, shown to be the progenitor of domesticated cassava, are centered in west-central Brazil where it was likely first domesticated no more than 10,000 years ago
  • With its high food potential, it had become a staple food of the native populations of northern South America, southern Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean by the time of the Spanish conquest, and its cultivation was continued by the colonial Portuguese and Spanish. Forms of the modern domesticated species can be found growing in the wild in the south of Brazil.
  • There are several wild Manihot species
cassava consumption
Cassava Consumption
  • Cassava is classified as "sweet" or "bitter" depending on the level of cyanogenic compounds; improper preparation of bitter cassava causes a disease called konzo.
  • Cassava can be cooked in various ways. The soft-boiled root has a delicate flavor and can replace boiled potatoes in many uses: as an accompaniment for meat dishes, or made into soups, purees, stews, etc. Deep fried (after boiling or steaming), it can replace fried potatoes, with a distinctive flavor. Tapioca and foufou are made from the starchy cassava root flour.
taro colocasia esculenta56
Taro – Colocasia esculenta
  • Taro is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia and spread west and east thousands of years ago – may have been cultivated very early by people in SE Asia – eventually reached tropical Africa and from there was brought to the West Indies and South America by slaves – today it is cultivated in the tropics where it thrives in wet, saturated soil conditions – propagated by planting corms
taro cultivation
Taro cultivation
  • The corm is steamed, crushed and made into a dough, then allowed to ferment by microbes – the paste is then eaten with the fingers or rolled into small balls – this is the method for making poi – staple Hawaiian food
  • Corms can also be prepared like potatoes – steamed, baked, roasted, or boiled
  • Corm is about 25% carbohydrate (about 3% sugar), 2% protein and very little fat
  • Good source of calcium due to presence of calcium oxalate crystals – will cause intense burning if eaten raw so must be cooked to break down the crystals