Potatoes – a solution to the food crisis?
I ate new potatoes on Christmas Day. Did I fall foul of consumerism at its best? Did I pay an outrageous price to have some new potatoes transported thousands of miles to reach me in perfect condition for the big day?
Nope – I dug them out of the garden on Christmas Eve.
When everybody else was doing a last minute rush to the shops, I put on my wellies, and with a fork in my hand I was grubbing around the wet soil looking for the best present I would have!
Last summer our potato plot was under a few inches of water for three weeks during the flooding. Since then we have had heavy frosts. But I was able to find several meals worth of gorgeous new potatoes in near perfect condition – protected by the soil all that time.
They tasted fabulous, as you can imagine.
I managed to get out in the garden to do a little weeding last week and I was still digging up potatoes. They are growing in the compost heap, between paving slabs, in the bag I use to carry the weeds to the compost heap and in the herb garden. I can’t stop them!
Every year I dig up rogue potatoes that breed faster than rabbits and the year Mr Green decided to use a rotovator we had a crop of them everywhere! (and horsetail, and mint ). Every potato that was missed in the grand harvest and got rotovated into a thousand pieces produced a plant that had 20 babies.
And they’re ALL Charlottes! Mmmmm, you haven’t experienced a potato until you’ve eaten the creamy yellow flesh of a Charlotte………..
So while rice crops fail due to water shortages and we take grain crops for biofuel, we are surely sitting on the perfect solution to our food crisis. You don’t need a huge plot dedicated to the humble potato – these little fellas will grow anywhere and the more they are ignored, the better. You can take the ‘high rise’ approach to limited land use and stack them in old car tyres. They will grow in the compost bin, in an old plastic bag, between other plants, in a hole in the grass and under trees. They just love to grow, grow, grow.
What can you NOT do with a potato? Some of the most gorgeous comfort foods are found in the form of bubble and squeak, mashed potato or jacket potato with a hearty dollop of cold, salted butter. You can eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and they are packed full of nutrition such as vitamin C, potassium, fibre and useful amounts of iron.
As we read tales of doom and gloom surrounding the food crisis and credit crunch, perhaps it’s time to get back to the simplest of ways again and to let optimism reign. And if you’re worried about potato blight, be sure to read my post about using Horsetail to arrest the development of potato blight
The potato – one of nature’s finest gifts. I’m glad to see I am not alone with my thoughts; 2008 has been named International year of the Potato. How about that!
Ok, so they are not as easy to transport as rice, and they go off quicker, but what do you think – could potatoes be part of the solution for our future foods?