Mashed potato pie, late 20th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A pie with a topping of mashed potato. Potato has nutritional value as a major source of carbohydrate and vitamin C. The vegetable originated in the New World, and has been grown in the Peruvian Andes for some 7000 years. Europeans first came into contact with the potato when Francisco Pizarro and the Spanish conquistadors encountered the Incas in 1537. The Spanish brought the potato back to Europe with them, but it took several decades for it to become popular. It was initially regarded as only fit for consumption by the poor or by hospital inmates. Today people consume more potatoes than any other vegetable.