Top 10 amazing facts about the potato

December 19, 2012, 3:03 pmYahoo!7

The potato may not look like anything special, but it has a long and esteemed history both on Earth...and in space!

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- Potatoes are a member of the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, capsicum and the poisonous belladonna.

- On average each global citizen eats 33kg of potatoes each year. Australians, clearly potato lovers, eat a whopping 60kg per person every year!

- In 1995 the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space when seeds were germinated on the spaceshuttle Columbia.

- The Incans in South America were the first people to cultivate the potato as long ago as 200BCE.

- The Spanish introduced the potato to Europe following the Conquest in the sixteenth century (and the word 'potato' comes from the Spanish patata).

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PHOTOS: Our favourite potato recipes


- In 1845 an outbreak of a disease called late blight decimated the Irish potato crop, which in turn caused the Great Irish Famine, believed to be responsible for over 1 million deaths in Ireland and the migration of a further million.

- Good news for fans of mash: humans can apparently survive on a diet of just potatoes, and milk or butter, which contain Vitamin A and D, the only vitamins missing from the humble spud.

- The world's biggest potato, weighing a hefty 3.76kg, was grown by English farmer Peter Glazebrook in 2010.

- China is currently the world's largest producer of potatoes.

- Potatoes contain a poisonous compound called solanines, which can reach toxic levels in green potatoes, in rare cases causing headaches, diarrhoea, cramps, and in isolated instances even coma and death.

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