Native to the New World, the potato was domesticated by Andean farmers, probably in the Lake Titicaca basin, almost as early as grain crops were cultivated in the Near East. Full of essential vitamins and energy-giving starch, the potato has proved a valuable world resource. Curious Spaniards took the potato back to Europe, from whence it spread worldwide. Today, the largest potato producer is China, with India not far behind. To tell the potato’s story, Lang has done fieldwork in South America, Asia, and Africa.
From the many potato projects studied, Lang learned a simple, direct lesson: how to address basic problems with practical solutions. Whether the problem is seed production, pest management, genetic improvement, or storage, projects take the diversity imposed by place and by farming traditions as a starting point. In agriculture, one size does not fit all.
Lang’s grasp of the social and technological issues involved is formidable; his revisionist thoughts on the origins of agriculture are convincing. Notes of a Potato Watcher explains how “think globally, act locally” can actually be applied. Here is a book that anyone interested in potatoes, development, and small farms will not want to miss, a book that explains why the potato was not the culprit in the Irish famine, a book that shows why solutions must begin at home.
About the Author
Published by Texas A&M University Press