The Bizarre Truth Behind These Super-Size Potatoes

There are a lot of surprising things that scientists can do with food, whether it's turning a kitchen staple into diamonds or making food out of water and electricity. Even more shocking, scientists have also taught spinach to send emails. Well, it might be a little more nuanced than that, but the plants can send signals that then push out the emails.

Now, scientists are pushing the limits of plant growth. Smithsonian Magazine reports that researchers at the University of Peking and the University of Chicago have been able to make crops like potatoes grow larger, "boosting agricultural yields by a whooping 50%" using the protein FTO, which is found in humans and associated with obesity. According to Interesting Engineering, FTO affects the growth of cells in both animals and humans. The researchers have experimented with potatoes and rice, and all the plants they've tried this method on so far have grown more quickly and grown larger, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

What does this mean for the future of food?

Wondering what exactly these super-size potatoes mean for us? On NPR's Morning Edition, host Steven Inskeep said, "The technique could eventually help farmers grow more food with the same resources and without a larger carbon footprint." This means that researchers might be on their way to finding a more environmentally friendly way to grow more crops while providing food for growing populations.

That being said, don't get too excited right away because scientists still have a lot to learn. According to Smithsonian Magazine, one of the researchers of the scientific paper noted that this was an initial study, so the experiments will be repeated and refined. Plus, Smithsonian Magazine explains that part of the process will include safety evaluations.

So while you shouldn't expect to eat an extra large potato any time soon, you can still try regular-sized spuds inĀ potato recipes when you need an easy side. Or, you can look out for someĀ tasty ways to cook potatoes that you might not have thought of before.