As 2008 rolls to a stop, Iâ€™m going to miss the International Year of the Potato. The potato is honored on a beautiful website here, and last winter, Kmareka reader Teresa posted a great baked potato recipe.
The spud got some respect in this weekâ€™s Sunday New York Times…
Grains like wheat and rice have long been staples of diets in most of the world and the main currency of food aid. Now, a number of scientists, nutritionists and aid specialists are increasingly convinced that the potato should be playing a much larger role to ensure a steady supply of food in the developing world.
Poor countries could grow more potatoes, they say, to supplement or even replace grains that are most often shipped in from far away and are subject to severe market gyrations.
Even before a sharp price spike earlier this year, governments in countries from China to Peru to Malawi had begun urging both potato growing and eating as a way to ensure food security and build rural income.
Potatoes are a good source of protein, starch, vitamins and nutrients like zinc and iron. As a crop, they require less energy and water to grow than wheat, taking just three months from planting to harvest. Since they are heavy and do not transport well, they are not generally traded on world financial markets, making their price less vulnerable to speculation. They are not generally used to produce biofuels, a new use for food crops that has helped drive up grain prices. When grain prices skyrocketed, potato prices remained stable.
Beyond that, potato yields can be easily increased in most of the world, where they are grown inefficiently and in small numbers.
Itâ€™s good to have some simple and cheap recipes, especially if you can cook and warm up the house at the same time. What are your favorites?