Why was potato banned in France between 1748 and 1772? 🗼

There was a time when a simple potato was “persona non grata” in France. Today, potatoes are practically the main product in all cuisines of the world, but they were outlawed in France between 1748 and 1772.

In 1748, the cultivation of potatoes was banned by the Parliament of France.
In 1748, the cultivation of potatoes was banned by the Parliament of France.

The potato was originally introduced to Europe by the Spaniards from the Inca Empire in South America in the 16th century.

However, the French did not trust the new food, which was used mainly for feeding pigs, and in 1748 the cultivation of potatoes was prohibited by parliament, as it was believed that it spreads diseases, especially leprosy.

People thought potatoes were strange and dangerous because they were grown underground. Even hungry peasants avoided him. Potatoes remained illegal for cultivation and consumption in France for many years.

Everything changed after the military doctor Antoine-Auguste Parmentier was captured by the Prussians during the Seven Years’ War ( 1756 – 1763 ). During his stay in prison, Parmentier ate potatoes, to his surprise, he did not notice any side effects.

Antoine-Auguste Parmentier
Antoine-Auguste Parmentier
Potatoes were the staple of the Prussian diet and the food they themselves grew to survive the French blockade of grain imports.

After his release, returning to France, Parmentier wrote a dissertation on the benefits of potatoes as a power source, he began to promote its use. He proposed potatoes as an alternative to grain during famine, proposing to use it as flour for baking. Parmentier began to insist that the law banning potatoes be repealed. Despite the resistance of the French population and even some hostility, the law was eventually repealed in 1772 .

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When advertising new food, Parmentier performed various potato-based gimmicks and arranged dinner parties full of potato dishes for people like Benjamin Franklin.

Posted by: Clicsouris / wikimedia
Posted by: Clicsouris / wikimedia
Parmentier presented King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette with bouquets of potato flowers with which Marie-Antoinette adorned her hat.

He also put armed guards in his potato field to add value to this product, prompting people to “steal” vegetables.

In 1772 , his efforts were rewarded, as the potato was declared edible by the Paris Faculty of Medicine.

Despite some resistance, his popularity grew, fueled by poor harvests and hunger, when potatoes became a lifeline for people.

Louis XVI congratulated him, saying: “France will not forget you because you have found food for the poor.”

By 1840 , the annual yield was 117 million hectoliters!

Parmentier’s efforts were not in vain; many dishes containing potatoes bear his name, such as, for example, the rustic pie filled with “ Hachis Parmentier ”.

Dish of potato “Hachis Parmentier”
Dish of potato “Hachis Parmentier”
When he died in 1813 , he was buried in a plot surrounded by potatoes, and his bronze sculpture, depicting a peasant receiving potatoes from his hands, stands at the Parmentier metro station on the square in Mondidier in Somme , Picardy .

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