The Great Potato Famine

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The Irish Potato Famine started in the year 1845. When the potatoes were harvested, a few days after, they started turning into a slimy, decaying, and blackish ball of rottenness. The reason this happened was due to the organism Phytophthora Infestans. 750,000 people died. Between 1846 and 1850, the population of Ireland dropped by 2 million which represented 25% of the total population (The Great Famine of 1845, 2013). It cut the population almost in half.

Pre-Columbian farmers discovered the potato about 7,000 years ago in the Andes Mountains (Potato History, 2014). They were the first ones to harvest the potato. The leaves of a potato are actually poisonous. If you leave one too long in the light, it will start to turn green. The reason it turned green was because there was a substance called solanine in the green skin, which can cause the potato to taste bad, and it can cause sickness in people.

It was not until the late 1500s when the first potato made it to Europe. The reason the potato got to Europe, was because Conquistadors trudged through Peru and came it contact with the potato for the first time. A Conquistador was a soldier, explorer, and an adventure that was from Portugal and the Spanish Empire. The Spanish did not use the potato much right away. This food was considered for the underclass. The potato took decades to make its way across Europe. Amateur farmers usually harvested it in curiosity. A lot of people in Ireland at the time were not wealthy, so the potato was their main diet. The potato was vulnerable to disease. At the time, there was no cure that existed at this time. Even if one was available, the people of Ireland could not have afforded it.

The famine brought many sicknesses to Ireland. They are...

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Potato History. (2014). Retrieved January 13, 2014, from

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Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2014, January 13). The Irish Potato Famine. Retrieved January 13, 2014, from

Stork, E. (n.d.). British Policies During the Great Famine. Retrieved January 13, 2014, from
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