Great Potato Famine Essay

1839 words - 7 pages

From about 1845 to around 1852 a great famine occurred in Ireland. It was very devastating for lots of people. Countless people died due to food shortages and others became ill and died later. The famine was caused by a fungus-like protest, which caused potatoes to rot. The Irish people depended heavily on potatoes, so when their main crop failed, the people were left without food to eat and without anything to sell for money. Many other people that did not die in Ireland immigrated to other countries like the United States in search for a better life. This famine was one of the reasons for large groups of Irish settlements in the Midwest, as they only knew farming to make a living. To make matters worse, the country bordering them, England, was little help to them. The relationship between these two countries was a little sketchy at the time. The Irish Potato Famine was a very tragic event and had a big impact on the people of Ireland.
The potato was first grown in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Bolivia by the Inca Indians around 8,000 B.C. to 5.000 B.C. The Incas used potatoes for many other things besides for eating. They placed raw slices of potatoes on broken bones for healing and also ate them with other foods to stop indigestion. They would sometimes carry a potato in their pocket to help with toothaches, and they used them to ease aches and pains by rubbing the painful area the water that potatoes were boiled in. Spanish Conquistadors conquered Peru in 1536 and discovered this wonderful potato. They brought them back to Europe and before the end of the sixteenth century families began cultivating them in northern Spain. In 1589 Sir Walter Raleigh brought potatoes to Ireland on the 40,000 acres near Cork. After about four decades, the potato was spread through all of Europe. Today potatoes are the world’s fourth largest food crop. They only follow rice, wheat, and maize.
Potatoes were very easy to grow and the yield was very good. One farmer could grow up to triple the amount of potatoes as they could grow grain on the same area of land. “A single acre of potatoes could support a family for a year (Mintz & McNeil, 2013).” The farmers began to plant more potatoes and less other crops such as wheat and corn. Potatoes are also a very good source of nutrition, so the Irish people could survive with their diet consisting of primarily potatoes. Potatoes are rich in vitamin B6, copper, and vitamin C. They also have more potassium than bananas. “On average, adults in Ireland ate 10 pounds of potatoes per day (Fradin, 2012)!” Approximately half of Ireland’s population relied on potatoes for survival. Potatoes were also a source of income for many people. Because so many people depended on potatoes, when the crop failed, many people were left without food and without a source of income. Starvation led to other causes of death because people became run down from lack of nutrition, and caught diseases cholera, dysentery, scurvy, and typhus....

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