Singing the praise of the humble potato

25/08/2011 at 2:01 pm 3 comments

Thanks to the PR instincts of a North County Dublin company, Ireland now has its own National Potato Day.

The Irish Times highlighted the top 5 “potato related moments in Irish history”. Anyone reading the list will be convinced that we might want to laugh at the humble spud, but that it would be more appropriate to celebrate it.

In short: the potato can play a big role in providing food security and eradicating poverty, and helping to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The potato is a staple, nutritious and inexpensive source of food.

“It is really a hidden treasure,” said Paolo Garonna, Officer in Charge of the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe.  “It is a hidden treasure from the point of view of the long-term objectives of the U.N.   It is the most widely grown tuber crop.  It is the fourth largest food crop after rice, wheat and corn.  It is a global food staple…Potatoes are easy to grow, even in harsh environments.  They have a high-energy content.  They can be produced from a very small area of land.  So, I think small peasants and poor families can grow potatoes.  They are rich in vitamin C.”

Not unimportant, in a world where some 1 billion people suffer from chronic hunger and under-nutrition.  The United Nations have noted that, while the price of most food commodities has skyrocketed in recent years, the cost of potatoes has remained relatively low.

And it even dedicated a whole year to the celebration of the important role of the potato.

So, even if our National Potato Day has some commercial overtones, it is good to pause and reflect, and celebrate the potato as one of the elements in our international battle to overcome extreme poverty and hunger.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Eamonn casey  |  25/08/2011 at 2:29 pm

    I’m sure I read somewhere recently that the spud is not even counted as a 5-a-day vegetable by the Dept of Agriculture in Britain because its nutrition content is so low – so what’s the real deal? Obviously eating them skin an’ all gives more fibre, but what’s the story with energy and Vitamin C… or is the big attraction because they’re filling (as well as growing on poor soil) and that will do nicely for poor people?

    Reply
  • 2. CIP - Potato Center (@Cipotato)  |  27/08/2013 at 4:44 am

    Potatoes provide a nutritious part of a healthy diet as they contain significant amounts of vitamin C, minerals, and phytochemicals such as carotenoids. A medium-size 150 g (5.3 oz) potato with the skin provides an average of 27 mg of vitamin C (45% of the daily value), a significant amount of potassium, and many antioxidants such as carotenoids and polyphenols. The fiber content of a potato with skin (2 g) is equivalent to that of many whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals. High carbohydrate content makes the boiled potato a good source of energy, but a lot depends on preparation and processing. French fries, crisps and other fried potatoes add unhealthy amounts of fat and salt into diets…

    Potatoes can come in many colors (with purple or even orange-colored flesh), and although they are not a common sight in North America and Europe, these potatoes are even richer in nutrients.

    It is important to note that potatoes are a staple food in many countries and that they provide nutrition and sustenance for millions of the world’s poor.

    Reply
  • […] Irish Aid and Irish NGOs help promote the ‘not so humble spud’ … http://www.irishaid.ie/news-publications/tags/agriculture/ (Also see this article) […]

    Reply

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