Potatoes are is the world’s number one non-grain food commodity, and a major source of food to people in many parts of the world. This is quite an achievement for a plant that 500 years ago was totally unknown to most of humanity. My work on the potato’s global history stresses the contributions made by peasants and small farmers to disseminating this important food, and also traces out the surprising connections between capitalism, the Enlightenment, and our individual eating habits.
The Potato Project led to two books: Feeding the People: the Politics of the Potato is a global history of the potato’s remarkable journey from the Andes to everywhere. A shorter essay called, simply, Potato offers a more poetic meditation on people, potatoes and the pursuit of happiness. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, ‘each section educates, brings a smile, makes you hungry, and makes you think’. ‘I’ll never look at a potato the same way again’, said the food writer Ruby Tandoh.
Guaman Poma de Ayala, ‘June: Time of Digging up the Potatoes’, ‘El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno’, 1615-16, The Royal Danish Library,
Feeding the People (2020)
Full Publication List
|2022||Journalism and Interviews||Interview||"How the humble potato has travelled the world and shaped history"||SCAS Talks Podcast|
|2022||Journalism and Interviews||Interview||"Feeding the People"||Hungry Books Podcast|
|2021||Scholarship||Book Chapter||'Potato' in Objects of New World Knowledge: A Cabinet of Curiosities||University of London Press||Link|
|2021||Scholarship||Article||Potatoes, Population and States||Early American Studies 19:2||Link|
|2021||Journalism and Interviews||Interview||Feeding the People: Interview with Daniela Gutierrez Flores||New Books Network|
|2020||Scholarship||Book||Feeding the People: The Politics of the Potato||Cambridge University Press||Link|
|2020||Journalism and Interviews||Interview||Potato Politics with Rebecca Earle, interview with Malcolm Jolley||Good Food Revolution||Link|
|2020||Journalism and Interviews||Interview||Interview with Ann & Peter Haigh||On The Menu||Link|
|2020||Journalism and Interviews||Interview||'How Potatoes Changed the World’: Interview with Laura Mahler||Earth Ideas|
|2020||Journalism and Interviews||Interview||'This Spud’s for You’: Interview with Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley||Gastropod||Link|
|2020||Journalism and Interviews||Interview||Book Q&A with Deborah Kalb||Deborah Kalb Books||Link|
|2020||Journalism and Interviews||Interview||How Did Potatoes Become Political in Wartime?||History Hit|
|2020||Journalism and Interviews||Interview||How the Humble Potato Conquered the World||Constant Wonder, BYU Radio||Link|
|2020||Journalism and Interviews||Interview||‘The Politics of the Potato': Interview with Dan Snow||History Hit||Link|
|2020||Journalism and Interviews||Article||How Potatoes Conquered the World||BBC History Magazine|
|2019||Scholarship||Journal Article||Potatoes and the Pursuit of Happiness||Gastronomica 19:1||Link|
|2019||Scholarship||Book||Potato (Object Lessons)||Bloomsbury Academic||Link|
|2018||Scholarship||Journal Article||Potatoes and the Hispanic Enlightenment||The Americas 75:4||Link|
|2018||Scholarship||Journal Article||Promoting Potatoes in Eighteenth-Century Europe||Eighteenth-Century Studies 51:2||Link|
|2017||Scholarship||Journal Article||Food, Colonialism and the Quantum of Happiness||History Workshop Journal 84||Link|
|2017||Journalism and Interviews||Article||How the Humble Potato Fuelled the Rise of Liberal Capitalism||The Conversation||Link|
|2017||Journalism and Interviews||Interview||One Potato More on The Food Chain||BBC World Service||Link|
|2017||Journalism and Interviews||Interview||Poor Old Potato on The Food Chain||BBC World Service||Link|
|2016||Journalism and Interviews||Article||Giving Thanks for the Sweet Potato||Sunday Telegraph|
|2016||Journalism and Interviews||Article||Making an Eighteenth-Century Potato Pudding||John Carter Brown Library Blogs||Link|
|2016||Journalism and Interviews||Journal Article||Boil 'Em, Mash 'Em, Stick ‘em in a Pudding||John Carter Brown Library Blogs||Link|
|2016||Journalism and Interviews||Article||Sweet Potatoes, Donald Trump—and the Special Relationship||The Conversation|
Relevant Blog Posts
Links to more interviews and talks about my research
I talked about the global history of potatoes with Natalie von der Lehr, from the Swedish Collegium of Advanced Studies, for an episode of the SCAS Talks podcast.
I discussed Feeding the People with Daniela Gutierrez Flores for the New Books Network. You can listen to the interview online below, or via https://newbooksnetwork.com/feeding-the-people
Watch an online talk about my latest book, Feeding the People: The Politics of the Potato
A recent interview for Gastropod, on the subject of potatoes, is available to listen to now.
My latest book, Feeding the People, has been published today by Cambridge University Press.