How are you going to celebrate...

the International Year of the Potato? And how did it get to be June before I knew we were celebrating one of my favorite foods?!

First, let's think of all the delicious ways we can eat them: mashed, boiled, baked, fried, chips, mmmmm..... I can't decide my favorite!

So yes, my first thought was of love for the potato. But as I read the International Year of the Potato website, I started to have second thoughts. Peru (where the potato originated) basically lobbied the United Nations to "focus world attention on the importance of the potato in providing food security and alleviating poverty." [source] The effort was successful, and the UN resolution noted that potatoes can help meet such millennium development goals as eradicating poverty.

OK, that's good -- I'm all for fighting poverty and reducing child mortality. (Well, I'm good *other* than the potato lobbying efforts...)

But here's where I get confused. If the potato is being marketed as a substitute for grains and rice, highlighted now by the rising cost and shortage of rice, won't there eventually be a potato shortage? And isn't dependence on a single crop (rice, potatoes, wheat, corn, whatever) bad for us in general? A bad year or years could be devastating. What about the effects of:
  • Drought -- remember "We Are The World," Ethiopia, 1984
  • Disease -- as a pertinent example, I offer the Irish Potato Famine, Ireland, 1845-52
  • Popularity -- like using corn to make bio-fuel in America, today (although I do kind of like the idea of these alternative fuels)
Wouldn't BALANCING our food dependencies make more sense? Use some corn, some potatoes, some rice, etc. so a bad year for one doesn't spell famine for thousands of people.

I dunno. I like potatoes better than rice, so I eat them more. That's only bad for my waistline. But I think buying influence on behalf of a country -- or a potato -- is wrong, and it's bad for the world and our food supply.

Rant over. I'm having mashed potatoes for supper tomorrow!


Vicki W said...

Oh you really must stop it with the common sense. It will only drive you crazy! Potatoes are one of my favorite foods. We had a large garden when I was a kid and we harvested a lot of potatoes and ate them pretty much every day. I was in college before I learned that most people didn't eat them as much as we did! LOL! College also brought my first taste of broccoli, my favorite green food, and scotch, my favorite beverage!

Anonymous said...

And that folks, is why I love my sister :-)