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From the gold potatoes at the Sun Temple in Cuzco, Peru, the muddy ones in Ireland and those grown in China for McDonald's chips, via Mrs Beeton, Charles Darwin, Lenin and Chairman Mao, to the mapping of the potato geme, the story of the spud is both satisfying and fascinating. John Reader follows the thread of the potato's story through the tapestry of human history, from its origins and evolution to its mysterious arrival in Europe, where it became a crucial part of gastromic and social fabric. As global population swells and environmental sustainability becomes ever more crucial, Reader asks what role the potato still has to play - in this lively, readable study of our most humble foodstuff.
John Reader is an author and photojournalist. He holds an Honorary Research Fellowship in the Department of Anthropology at UCL and is a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute and the Royal Geographic Society.