By Paul Tran, Courier Staff Writer
Potatoes are a wonderful, versatile food. You can boil them, mash them, or put them in stew. Discovered in America by colonists, the use of these easy growing vegetables has spread and they’ve become a staple food in many countries. Unfortunately modern methods used to prepare these roots are far too delicious. They’re often cooked in excessive oil and grease to make french fries or potato chips. These dishes are high in calories, fat, and sodium, and their popularity in the American diet has become a large cause of obesity.
In the past, potatoes were a staple food in Western civilization due to their year-round availability, difficulty to spoil, and high carbohydrate count, and were later picked up as a main food component by European countries for the same reasons. The importance of the potato in Eastern diets was shown by the Great Potato Famine where a potato blight struck Irish potato plants and caused 750,000 people to die from starvation and disease caused by lack of potatoes. Even more recently, mashed potatoes and baked potatoes are seen as parts of a classic family meal. However, potatoes have shifted into a far different purpose in the modern diet.
Fast food restaurants often prepare potatoes in mysterious ways. McDonalds fries, for example, are cooked with so many preservatives that they’re nearly imperishable, even after several years. Low in nutrients, and even less healthy due to deep frying, the representation of potato chips and french fries as the main snack and junk foods in America shows the unhealthy roles they play in our diet.
The American diet has come to turn the potato into a source of heart disease and obesity. While the potato was very beneficial to the diets of our ancestors, these roots have become an unhealthy food that, due to their availability, are eaten in greasy ways daily. No other plant is nearly as detrimental to American health as the deep fried potato.