Spud spat: Are potato’s roots in Peru or Chile?

EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP/Getty Images Peru and Chile are in another food fight. For years, the two South American countries have quarreled over who has the naming rights to pisco, the popular South American grape brandy. Their latest dispute? The potato, which Peruvians have long claimed to have originated from their nation’s soil. Peru was up in ...

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594631_080613_peru2.jpg

EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP/Getty Images

Peru and Chile are in another food fight. For years, the two South American countries have quarreled over who has the naming rights to pisco, the popular South American grape brandy. Their latest dispute? The potato, which Peruvians have long claimed to have originated from their nation's soil. Peru was up in arms earlier this month when Chile's agricultural minister claimed that 99 percent of the world's potatoes are linked genetically to those from Chile. José Antonio García Belaúnde, Peru's foreign minister, issued an immediate retort:

Obviously the world has known for centuries that the potato is from Peru and that the Peruvian potato saved Europe from hunger... the entire world knows this."

EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP/Getty Images

Peru and Chile are in another food fight. For years, the two South American countries have quarreled over who has the naming rights to pisco, the popular South American grape brandy. Their latest dispute? The potato, which Peruvians have long claimed to have originated from their nation’s soil. Peru was up in arms earlier this month when Chile’s agricultural minister claimed that 99 percent of the world’s potatoes are linked genetically to those from Chile. José Antonio García Belaúnde, Peru’s foreign minister, issued an immediate retort:

Obviously the world has known for centuries that the potato is from Peru and that the Peruvian potato saved Europe from hunger… the entire world knows this.”

Despite his contentious claims, Belaúnde is right in one respect. Researchers at the International Potato Center later confirmed the potato’s Peruvian origins.

But Chile can take comfort in some other facts, such as that its per-capita GDP is nearly twice that of Peru’s, and that the percentage of its population below the poverty line is about 36 percent less. The good news is that Peru is using the potato for more than just stoking national pride. President Alan Garcia is encouraging greater production of the crop, which is more calorie-rich than increasingly pricey grains, by switching from white bread to potato bread in Peruvian schools.

Tag: Peru

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