' Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism, are all very good words for my lips. ' ( Charles Dickens )
The Spaniard Piedro de Cieza de León was the first European to describe the potato. Despite the lyrical description of Cieza de León, the new plant was not immediately regarded as a food source by Europeans, but exclusively as a special garden plant, even well into the eighteenth century. See article in Dutch.
Van Gogh to his brother Theo: 'You see, I really have wanted to make it so that people get the idea that these folk, who are eating their potatoes by the light of their little lamp, have tilled the earth themselves with these hands they are putting in the dish, and that they have thus honestly earned their food’
For ages farmers worked and lived in harmony with nature. Lack of land, but enough ‘hands at the plow’ created a kind of sustainability. Farmers were well aware that they had to rely on their neighbors. People were dependent on one another and one should always be able to count on each other in prosperity and adversity. In the east of the Netherlands, the well-known term 'Naoberschap' was created. That was important in times of harvesting the necessary food such as potatoes and grain. Always in a hurry because the weather conditions could change quickly. A good harvest meant food for humans and animals in the coming year. This farming has been an job with characteristics like hard word and often undesirable working conditions, but for reason of ‘no farming, no food’. Read more about Millet's paintings on the struggle to survive.