The Mark Watney potato diet – Could you really survive purely on potatoes?
Potatoes have long been a main player in the human daily diet. We eat an average of 33kg of potatoes every year. A new study confirmed the importance of starch-heavy foods, such as potatoes, in human evolution and the development of the human brain. So by the sounds of it, Watney made the right decision in harvesting taters.
Andy Weir justified his choice of potatoes as the food that would ultimately save Mark Watney’s life by the fact that potatoes have the highest calorie yield per area of any crop. But there’s more to potatoes than calories.
Here are 5 facts you didn’t know about potato nutrition.
1. Potatoes make up 13% of the total fibre intake in the UK, which is a huge figure, considering that the vast majority of the population don’t meet the daily fibre target. And why do we need fibre? The main role is to keep the digestive system healthy, but research has shown that less healthy foods, with high fat and sugar, are displaced when fibre intake is increased.
2. They are a good source of brain food! The potato has more potassium than a banana!
3. Potatoes are nutrient dense. A medium baked potato has 1680 antioxidants in 100g, compared to cooked carrots, which have only 317!
4. Potatoes are high in vitamin C! Two potatoes have the same amount of vitamin C as an orange.
5. They are a child friendly superfood! Children get more vitamin C, B1, B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium from potatoes than the 5 ‘superfoods’ beetroot, bananas, nuts, broccoli and avocado COMBINED.
So we know how good potatoes in our diet can be, but what if we pulled a Watney and that’s all we ate? Is it really possible to survive for as long as Mark Watney on this super food?
Although potatoes are rich in nutrients, especially vitamin C and potassium, a diet of pure potato would result in vitamin A, E and K deficiency, as well as a lack of calcium and protein intake. If Mark could have taken a few more ingredients with him to Mars, we would have recommended a dark leafy green, such as spinach, which is high in vitamin A, E and K, as well as calcium, and a pulse, such as beans, for protein.
Check out the recipes below for Mars friendly meals. How long do you think you could survive?
Spinach, Sage and Potato Soup
Spicy Saag Aloo
Butter Bean, Artichoke and Potato Salad