Sunday, January 04, 2009

Defending the Potato

Pity the poor, misunderstood potato that has become the symbol of our inactivity and downright laziness. How inappropriate!

Consider instead that we just completed the International Year of the Potato, and just last month, the FAO released a 144-page illustrated book, New Light on a Hidden Treasure, which records the achievements of the celebration and promotes its message that "the potato is a vital part of the global food system, and will play an ever greater role in strengthening world food security and alleviating poverty." The book, available for free download in six different languages "introduces the Year's guest-of-honour, Solanum tuberosum, the 'humble tuber' that spread from the Andes across six continents and changed the course of world history. The review also provides the most recent FAO statistics on world potato production and consumption, and profiles of 52 major potato producing countries."

FAO reports that "[t]he International Year was observed around the globe in scientific conferences, growers' congresses, festivals, cooking contests, art exhibitions and school projects. The book presents highlights of those events, as well as the winning entries in the IYP Global Photography Contest." The book "concludes with viewpoints gathered from some of the world's leading 'potato people' – those whose daily work with the potato has become a passionate way of life – and an overview of prospects for potato development beyond 2008.

BTW, the couch potato picture was lifted from the OverTheLimit news blog. The blog post is captioned, "Off the Couch and into the Gym," and it reports that "the most common New Year resolution is to promise yourself to start going to the gym and taking care of your health and body." While it also notes that most resolutions are left by the wayside by early summer, it suggests that this year may be a particularly good time to try it again. Many gym memberships are available at a discount because of the recession.

According to the FAO fact sheet, "[t]he potato is a good source of dietary energy and some micronutrients, and its protein content is very high in comparison with other roots and tubers. Potato is low in fat - but preparing and serving potatoes with high fat ingredients raises the caloric value of the dish."

Admittedly, potatoes do not move a lot, but then again, neither do most other vegetables.


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