Frederick II of Prussia, China and potatoes

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Check it out, the potato is beginning to become more and more popular in China due to its ease of cultivation and small amount of soil required compared to other crops such as rice. According to the article the change in production from 1996 to 2006 has been:

rice: -6.72%
wheat: -22.45%
corn: +10.1%
potatoes: +34.2%

If you've ever learned basic German through Deutsch - warum nicht? you'll remember series 4 chapter 3, where Frederich der große of Prussia was first introduced, the king of Prussia in the 18th century. He did something similar:

Andreas: Und schon sind wir an der Oder. Da passierte vor über 250 Jahren folgendes: Der König Friedrich "der Große" befahl damals den Bauern, daß sie Kartoffeln anbauen sollten. Das mußte er befehlen, weil damals niemand die Kartoffel kannte. Aber bevor es soweit war, mußte man das Land trockenlegen, das dauerte sechs Jahre...
So yes, it is possible to get a populace more used to eating something otherwise not consumed in all that great a frequency (potatoes certainly aren't exotic in China, just not a main staple) if a government deems it to be necessary in the long term.

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