Until the end of the 18th century cultivated plants - cereals and vegetables and various collected plants were the main source of food of rural population. Cereals were the main food - it was the source of flour and groats, the ingredients necessary to make different meals. Changes in the nutrition habits of rural population started in the second half of the 19th century, when potatoes became commonly grown in Poland. With time potatoes became the main food and replaced or even eliminated such common plants as turnip or swede (rutabaga). In this way they changed the consumer pattern in Polish villages. Potatoes were eaten almost every day, also on holidays. In some regions of Poland they became part of holiday meals, particularly Christmas Eve supper. Potatoes were cooked or baked (in jackets or peeled), boiled peeled, chopped or fried. They were added to borscht (beetroot soup) or 'zur' (soup made from fermented rye flour). They were used to prepare new dishes: stews (with vegetables, fruit or flour), soup, dumplings, pancakes, and pies. They were also added to bread dough, usually to speed up fermentation or to change or improve the taste of bread. Most often potatoes were used for this purpose during famine, poor harvest or pre-harvest period when food was scarce. Popularization of potatoes among the inhabitants of Polish villages was both positive and negative. Potatoes helped avoid malnutrition and hunger. But, because the area of land on which potatoes were grown was increased, the nutrition pattern of the rural population changed. Cultivation of some vegetables was abandoned, as a result of which some nutrients were eliminated from the diet. Furthermore, potatoes contributed to considerable consumption of vodka in Polish villages, since they were a distillery product that was cheaper than cereals.
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