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More than one way to celebrate the potato

Potato Product Group of Horticulture New Zealand


Media Release


11 August 2008


More than one way to celebrate the potato


With less than five months to go before the International Year of the Potato (IYP) officially ends, potato advocates continue to promote this jewel of a vegetable in a variety of imaginative and sometimes surprising ways.

While New Zealanders are passionate about potatoes – 97% of us eat them regularly – it seems we aren’t the only ones. Countries such as Slovenia, Australia, Italy, France, the United States, Korea, South Africa and Peru have been lining up to celebrate the many attributes of this terrific tuber, and support the United Nations initiative, aimed at raising awareness of the importance of potatoes.

As well as congresses, conferences, national days, weeks and months all dedicated to the potato, the year has also inspired a number of unusual potato-based activities and events.

Those that are musically-minded can tune into “Potato Radio” – a website-based radio station dedicated to songs that mention potatoes. You can hum along at http://www.potatoengine.com/potatoradio.html The line-up of musicians on Potato Radio is certainly impressive; “Potato Head Blues” by Louis Armstrong, “Mashed Potatoes” by James Brown and “Sweet Potato Pie” by James Taylor all feature. North Koreans have a folk song called “Potato Pride” - the song, complete with English sub-titles and an accompanying video can be viewed at http://www.robpongi.com/pages/comboPOTATOPRIDE.html

People living in Australia can send “uber tuber” postcards, if you’re in France you might like to attend a one-day potato cooking course at the Cordon Bleu School in Paris, while members of a Slovenian association dedicated to “pan-frying potatoes with onions” will be hosting the 8th World Festival of Sauteéd Potatoes in Slovenia in September.

Closer to home, New Zealand chefs have taken up the Great Potato Recipe Challenge, with winners to be announced later this year. A series of nutrition forums will be held around the country during August and the year will culminate in a Fundraising Gala to be held in November, with proceeds going to Children’s Health Camps.

Glenda Gourley, Food and Education Consultant for the Potato Product Group of Horticulture New Zealand, the organization that has been promoting IYP in New Zealand, says while it has been a lot of fun so far, the Year has a serious side.

“The United Nations is hoping that the International Year of the Potato will encourage the sustainable development of more potato-based food systems, and in turn address food shortages being experienced in some countries”, she says.

Glenda Gourley says the size of farms in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia are shrinking, so many farmers are turning from growing grains and legumes to root and tuber crops.

“The potato produces more nutritious food more quickly, on less land and in harsher climates than any other major crop. Up to 85% of the plant is edible human food, compared to around 50% for cereals, so it is a very useful food source.”

New Zealand’s 256 potato growers are supporting the International Year of the Potato, and a range of activities aimed at promoting the benefits of growing and eating potatoes are being undertaken throughout the year. More information on the International Year of the Potato can be found at www.vegetables.co.nz/potatoes

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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