Meet a French soldier who was taken as a POW and fed only potatoes during his captivity, and survived. Feeling like he should have died, he made it his life’s mission to convince the world of the nutritional value of potatoes, and his tomb in France is decorated with potatoes as a tribute.

Grave of Antoine-Augustin Parmentier

If you amble through Paris’s popular Pere-Lachaise Cemetery, among tombs of celebrated philosophers, singers, and playwrights, you may discover a grave surrounded by potato plants. If an admirer has stopped by recently, there may even be a tuber resting atop the tombstone. You have found the final resting place of Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, history’s greatest potato promoter.

When Parmentier was born, in 1737, the French disdained potatoes: Farmers grew them as animal feed, but they were seen as unfit for human consumption, with the potential to cause leprosy. At the time of his death, though, potatoes were grown throughout Europe, and the hardy, dependable crop was credited for breaking a cycle of famine.

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15 thoughts on “Meet a French soldier who was taken as a POW and fed only potatoes during his captivity, and survived. Feeling like he should have died, he made it his life’s mission to convince the world of the nutritional value of potatoes, and his tomb in France is decorated with potatoes as a tribute.”

  1. 01Cloud01

    Matt Damon lived off potatoes while on Mars they must be excellent

  2. posterior-deltoid

    *Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew.*

  3. Niaaal

    In his honor, one of the most famous dishes people enjoy in France is called Hachis Parmentier. It’s a casserole made with layers of mashed potatoes and beef, topped with cheese. Absolutely delicious.

  4. Laninel

    Iirc aren’t potatoes complex carbohydrates, and you could survive off milk and potatoes if you had to? Something or the other about them containing all the necessary nutrients we need, but it could have been an old rumor I read

  5. AnotherJustRandomDig

    Potatoes are amazing foods.

    They have far more potassium than bananas and you can live on them indefinitely.

    My wife and I tried the tater diet a couple years ago and it completely normalized her blood pressure, we list weight as well, but the BP one blew my mind.

    The potato diet is how Penn Gillett lost his weight.

  6. LeoMarius

    If you ever see “Parmentier” on a French menu, it’s a potato dish.

    salade Parmentier: potato salad

    hachis Parmentier: shephard’s pie

    velouté Parmentier: potato soup

    purée Parmentier: mashed potatoes

    pommes Parmentier: cubed potatoes fried in butter

  7. himovadere

    The Potato has to be the worlds most diverse plant/food. And I will nom in all forms!

  8. Rossum81

    One of his tactics to encourage interest in potatoes was to have a field of potatoes ostentatiously guarded to make the locals think they were worth swiping.

  9. 314159265358979326

    For everyone wondering, this was in the 18th century.

    Oddly, when I hear “French soldier’ I think WWI (I knew it wasn’t the case here, I’m just surprised to note that association.)

  10. zhilla

    My grandfather, a Yugoslav partisan, was captured by Germans and taken to POW camp. They were feeding them horribly (he lost almost 40 kg – from cca 100+ to 65), so inmates were forced to dig trough German army trash to survive. They would supplant their nutrition by cooking mostly potato peels they found.

  11. PoorCorrelation

    So what you’re telling me is that it is not a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes? Take that Douglas Adams!

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