Think potatoes are just America’s favorite vegetable? Think again!   

The potato is such an important food globally that the United Nations has declared 2008 the International Year of the Potato. Citing the potato’s strong nutrition profile, versatility and ability to feed the masses, the year has noble goals. Jacques Diouf, the director-general of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), says the potato “is on the frontline in the fight against world hunger and poverty.”   

According to the FAO, the world will need to increase food production by about 60% to meet the needs of its rapidly growing population. The potato is crucial to meeting this challenge because it’s fast-growing and nutritious. One medium potato (5.3 ounces) contains 110 calories, 45% of the daily value of vitamin C, essential B vitamins and 2 grams of fiber. Potatoes contain no fat, cholesterol or sodium, and skin-on potatoes are a good source of potassium.   

Potatoes are grown in all 50 states and also have historical significance in the Peruvian mountains, the plains of Northern Europe, China’s Yunnan plateau, Rwanda’s equatorial highlands and the subtropical lowlands in India. Try preparing a potato dish from another country to see how other cultures include this vegetable in their cuisines. Start with last Friday’s recipe for organic Kootu Curry.  

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Potato Board