Chocolate in "limited quantities"? No vanilla? What kind of horrific dystopia is this! ;-) Seriously, though, nice work! Nik

You mention the lack of potatoes having a profound effect on Europe. I think this would mean mass starvation, wouldn't it? Cprhodesact 22:04, 18 Jul 2005 (UTC)

I'm not so sure about that. Minor famines, perhaps, but, if anything, it would probably tend to keep the population from getting so large. Definitely no Irish Potato Famine (though possibly some other similar famine involving grains) Nik 22:48, 18 Jul 2005 (UTC)


I was thinking of an essay in the book "What If 2" about the importance of the potato. It goes something like this: grain has a narrow harvest time and is then stored in centralized buildings. This was convenient for European armies "living off the land" because they could easily take the grain for their own use - which was a problem fro the peasant because they would then starve. Historically, areas through which armies traveled suffered from famine. The potato, on the other hand, had a large period of time in which it could be harvested and it could not be stored for long - so peasants kept it growing in the ground. After soldiers stole all of a peasants grain he would no longer starve to death because he could now dig up some potatoes to eat. This also turned out to be good news for the soldiers because living peasants could plant more crops for next year than dead peasants ever could.
Fredrick the Great noticed potatoes being used along the "Spanish Road" (routs where Spanish armies traipsed across Europe). He then required Prussian peasants to start growing potatoes. Later Prussia was attacked several time in a row but did not suffer from the usual famine, and Prussian armies were kept relatively well supplied. Most folks attributed Prussian survival to some sort of mythical Prussian super-abilities, but lots of folks realized that potatoes played a part and encouraged that root to be spread throughout Europe.
With the potato grown along with other crops, a given acre of land could support more people. European population increased beyond former maximums and famines in general were less severe.
The story in Ireland goes like this: the potato was brought to Ireland by Basque fishermen. At the time of Cromwell (and later) the English tried to annihilate the Irish by starving them out. Land was given to Cromwell's old soldiers and the Irish were pushed onto too-little land. But the English tried to grow English crops in Ireland - which didn't work out, and the Irish didn't starve -- because they had the potato. The English had to abandon their plan, and Ireland stayed Irish. Compare this to north Ireland where the Scottish had set up camp earlier. The Scottish used their own crops (barley?) which did OK, and the Irish did not yet have the potato so they did starve up there.
No potato =
  • lower European population
  • more devastating effect from wars
  • Ireland becomes English
  • Prussia falls

--AirshipArmada 18:15, 19 Jul 2005 (UTC)

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