Chinese farmer harvesting potatoes in Ningshan
Photo from Daylife/Getty Images
With governments having trouble feeding the growing number of hungry poor and grain prices fluctuating wildly, food scientists are proposing a novel solution for the global food crisis: Let them eat potatoes.
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 humble spud 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…
A decade ago, the vast majority of potatoes were grown and eaten in the developed world, mostly in Europe and the Americas. Today, China and India – neither big potato-eating countries in the past – rank first and third, respectively, in global potato production. And in 2005, developing countries produced a majority of the world’s potatoes for the first time.
“Increasingly, the potato is being seen as a vital food-security crop and a substitute for costly grain imports,” said NeBambi Lutaladio, a roots and tubers specialist at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. “Potato consumption is expanding strongly in developing countries, where the potato is an increasingly important source of food, employment and income.”
Well, there’s an advantage and a disadvantage – which can be turned to advantage.
They are cheap and easy to grow. I have kin who make roughly half their annual income from potatoes. For six generations or so, here in the New World.
Global warming ain’t going to help storage and related problems since spuds don’t do as well in warmer climates. But, that’s all the more reason to support emphasis on local sourcing for produce. If you’re not shipping them off for a 5,000-mile boat ride, shelf life becomes less of a problem.