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Картофель: статьи Питера Даффи и Нэнси Шьют | Potatoes: US view

by Peter Duffy, an author and journalist in New York.

potatoes

THERE IS NO more tragic vegetable than the potato. Originating in the Peruvian Andes, it was first domesticated by the Quechua-speaking peoples, who could not help but become reliant on a highly nutritional foodstuff that could be grown in large quantities on small plots in regions inhospitable to grains. It enabled the Quechua to maintain strong bodies while suffering the deprecations of the Incas (and their system of forced labor). The Incas were followed by Spanish colonizers and then by Spanish and Peruvian hacienda owners.

When the Spanish brought potatoes to Europe in the sixteenth century, the locals were skeptical. Churchmen denounced the tuber, noting that potatoes were not mentioned in the Bible. Potatoes were ugly—the shunned outcast of the Middle Ages.” Potatoes could even make you a leper. I am told that the Burgundians are forbidden to make use of these tubers, because they are assured that the eating of them causes leprosy,” wrote the English botanist John Gerard in 1633. But Europe was gearing up for a few centuries of warfare, and the put-upon population, as in the case of the Quechua, would find sustenance in the potato.

As happened everywhere the cultivation of the potato became widespread, their numbers grew—and just in time to serve as a vast workforce for the Industrial Revolution and its inequitable system of low wages and brutal working conditions. In Das Kapital, Marx cites a pamphlet declaring that “if the labourer can be brought to feed on potatoes instead of bread, it is indisputably true that more can be exacted from his labour.” In non-industrial Ireland, the potato was able to maintain a huge army of perpetually near-starving paupers on large estates owned by absentee landlords who had little interest in improving the general welfare. The plant was so ubiquitous that a succession of crop failures in the mid-nineteenth century—which became the Great Irish Famine, from 1845 to (roughly) 1850—reduced the nation’s population by a third (half from death) and provoked an outflow of emigrants that would last for a century and a half. Ireland has never come close to matching its pre-famine population of 8.2 million. In 1904, the Irish nationalist Michael Davitt called the “accursed” potato the “enemy of the poorer Irish peasantry.”

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In Russia Nicolay Vavilov, a Soviet agricultural botanist was enthusiastic about the potato. He was so seared by the loss of life from the Soviet famine of 1921 that he sidled up to Trotsky on a breadline and told him how “his program of research and plant breeding could eliminate food shortages and bread queues for ever.” Trotsky passed the word to Lenin, who decided to provide funding for Vavilov’s research institute. Despite his scientific acuity (or perhaps because of it), Vavilov eventually ran afoul of a regime that was fixated on grain, and he was thrown in prison, where he died in 1943. (Given the potato’s history, this counts as perhaps the only instance of the Soviet Union passing up a valuable instrument of tyranny.)

В России с энтузиазмом относился к картофелю Николай Вавилов, ботаник и растениевод. Он был так поражён высокой смертностью от голода в 1921 году, что подошёл в Троцкому в очереди за хлебом и сказал, что «его программа научного растениеводства сможет навсегда уничтожить нехватку продуктов питания и очереди за хлебом». Троцкий передал эти слова Ленину, который решил выделить деньги для исследовательского института Вавилова. Несмотря на свою научную зоркость (а возможно, именно из-за неё) Вавилов в конце концов впал в немилость у властей, для которых идеей фикс было зерноводство. Его бросили в тюрьму, где он погиб в 1943 году. (Учитывая историю картофеля, это чуть ли не единственный случай, когда СССР не обратил внимания на такой ценный инструмент тирании, как картофель.)

The greatest hero of the tuber was Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, a Frenchman who was fed exclusively on potatoes during his time as a prisoner of the Prussians during the Seven Years War. He emerged from captivity determined that “all of France should enjoy the benefits of this hitherto despised crop.” He introduced it as a salve against hunger for the poor masses; and he presented it as a curiosity to the aristocracy, including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in a private audience in 1785. He hosted dinners that included nothing but potatoes. Benjamin Franklin was said to have attended one of them. The same was said of Thomas Jefferson, who, as president in 1802, served potatoes “in the French manner” at the White House, thus (it is claimed) introducing french fries to America.

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China has utilized the potato during its explosion of growth over the past few decades. China is the world’s largest producer of potatoes — they are grown in huge numbers in remote regions of Inner Mongolia.

ADDITION: POTATOES AND HEALTH
Дополнение: картофель и здоровье

by Nancy Shute, NPR

In June 2011, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that potatoes were a key culprit in weight gain, more so than red meat or sugary drinks. That study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

But Joe Vinson a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton, aims to rehabilitate the humble tuber. When he had overweight people eat potatoes daily for a month, their blood pressure dropped, and they didn’t gain weight.

Но Джо Винсон, профессор химии Университета Скрэнтона, намерен реабилитировать скромный клубень. Когда он в течение месяца ежедневно кормил картофелем людей с избытком веса, у них упало кровяное давление и вес не прибавился.

He thinks that beneficial antioxidants in potatoes are destroyed by frying, that that the microwaved potatoes his test subjects consumed should still retain those good vitamins and polyphenols.

Он считает, что полезные антиоксиданты в картофеле уничтожаются при жарке. Его испытуемые ели картофель, приготовленный в микроволновой печи, где, по мнению профессора, сохраняются полезные витамины и полифенолы.

His study was small, with just 18 subjects eating 6 to 8 microwaved potatoes twice daily for one month, then going potato-free. After eating potatoes for a month, their diastolic blood pressure dropped an average of 4 millimeters of mercury, or 4.3 percent.

Исследование было небольшое. 18 человек съедали по 6-8 картофелин (приготовленных в СВЧ-печи) дважды в день в течение месяца. Через месяц диастолическое кровяное давление у них упало в среднем на 4 мм ртутного столба, или на 4,3%.

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Vinson had his subjects eat fancy purple potatoes because they have higher levels of compounds like clorgenic acid. Vinson was surprised to find that chlorogenic acid, a major bioactive compound in coffee, was abundant in potatoes, too. That sparked this study. He hopes to repeat it with regular potatoes.

Испытуемые ели редкие «фиолетовые» сорта картофеля, так как в них выше уровень полезной хлоргенической кислоты (clorgenic acid). Винсон с удивлением обнаружил, что в картофеле много этой кислоты, которая является одним из главных биоактивных веществ в кофе. Это и навело его на мысль провести своё небольшое исследование. Он намерен повторить его на обычных (белых) сортах картофеля.

Vinson’s findings, which haven’t been published yet, were presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Denver.

Исследования Винсона ещё не опубликованы, но были доложены на собрании Американского химического общества в Денвере.

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