Main nutritional resources: potatoes

Main nutritional resources: potatoes
2014. Working the family plot. Lucillo, León (Spain) © AEEH

Main nutritional resources: potatoes

The diet of the peasants of Castilla y León was based on three pillars which were produced, transformed and prepared at home: bread, the pig slaughter and farm products like the potato. Brought to the region in the early 19th century, it became a basic food as it is very productive by surface unit and also because tithes were not paid to the Church for it.

Growing potatoes is in decline in Spain and one of the complex reasons for this decline is linked to the emigration of young people and their lack of interest in farming, which some women talk about with a sense of humour and others with sadness. An example of the former is when the woman in the picture asked her teenage son to dig a “ditch” for the potatoes, which he eventually did unwillingly. When his mother saw it she said: “My son, I’m going to grow potatoes not bury three people together!”

An example of the latter attitude is this comment by an old woman: “I’ve spent all my life working to buy a plot of land in the Soldán so that my children could have some good potatoes. For nothing! Because now they have left and we can no longer work the land. There it is, going to waste! The best land around here!”