Green Nudging in der Mensa

Potatoes were having a hard time in 18th century Prussia. To us nowadays, this seems silly – potatoes are resilient, versatile, and they taste good if they’re prepared well. But farmers back then weren’t convinced (and probably didn’t know about french fries), and termed potatoes as the devil’s apple (it came from heathen lands and grew fruit below ground where nobody could see).

You would think that people suffering from famine would take what they get, but no. The farmers, despite the  “Kartofelbefehl” 1756 by Frederick The Great that mandated potato cultivation, refused to grow the tuber. And so, Frederick has changed his tactics: Since ordering people didn’t work, he employed a strategy that made the grubby tuber irresistible; he cultivated potatoes on his own royal fields, in secret and with guards, and told the guards to be, let’s say, not as conscientious as they should be…

Let’s be fair: potatoes don’t have much going for them in terms of aesthetic appeal…The results are history now. People became curious, as it is their nature, sneaked in the fields, and pilfered the potatoes. From that point on, the farmers started to realize the potatoes potential in their diet. After all, if Frederick grows it incognito, there must be something to it!

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