Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Year of the Potato

This seemed important to pass off to you guys.

How to Celebrate the International Year of the Potato
"As wheat and rice prices surge, the humble potato is being rediscovered as a nutritious crop that could cheaply feed an increasingly hungry world."

The United Nations declared that 2008 is the International Year of the Potato. The celebration of the International Year of the Potato (IYP) is intended to raise awareness of the importance of the potato, as well as agriculture in general, in addressing issues of global concern, including hunger, poverty and threats to the environment. This article provides some ways for you to join in the celebration of the humble spud.

Learn about the reasons why the potato is an important food crop. The humble potato is being rediscovered as a potentially very useful food crop that can be easily grown in many parts of the world as a source of nutritious food. The benefits of potatoes include:

Global nature - they have been transported all around the world and are grown almost everywhere

Ability to feed the hungry - the potato is able to produce more nutritious food per area of land and in harsher environments than any other major food crop, providing "up to 85 percent of the plant is edible human food, compared to around 50% in cereals".[2]

Nutritious - potatoes are good for you. They are rich in carbohydrates which provide long-term energy and they have the highest protein content for the root and tuber family, "with an amino-acid pattern that is well matched to human requirements".[3]

Increasing future demand - there is an increasing trend in eating potatoes around the world, indicating that potatoes will become more and more important as a substantial food crop.

Learn about the different varieties of potatoes. There are many varieties of potatoes and different potatoes are suitable for different uses. There are potatoes suitable for baking, roasting, boiling, mashing, steaming and frying. Ask at your local potato distributor for information on the best types of potato for your cooking needs.

Learn about the nutrition benefits of the potato. Potatoes have received a lot of bad press from those insisting that potatoes make dieters fat but this bad rap is undeserved. Potatoes are low in fat; it is what you put on a potato can make it fattening but by itself, potatoes are not a fattening food and can easily satisfy hunger cravings quickly in small portion. Potatoes contain many micronutrients, including vitamin C, iron, B1. B3, B6 and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, and contains folate, pantothenic acid and riboflavin. In addition, potatoes contain valuable dietary fibre and antioxidants to help prevent age-related diseases.[4]

Note the effects of cooking styles on potato nutrition. The method that you use for cooking potatoes impacts on the nutrition level of the potato.

Boiling causes a big loss of vitamin C, especially for peeled potatoes

Frying potatoes and making French fries/chips reduces the mineral and ascorbic acid content and causes the potato to absorb a lot of fat

Baking causes a higher loss of vitamin C than boiling but retains other vitamins and minerals.[5]

Make some potato recipes at home. Get cooking! Almost everyone loves the potato in some form or other and you can put your culinary skills to use cooking potatoes at home. Look for potato recipes on wikiHow and share some of your favourite potato recipes here and with family and friends.

Grow your own potatoes. Potatoes are really easy to grow and children can also join in the fun of planting them and watching them grow. For more details on growing potatoes for yourself, see our article Plant Potatoes.

The Bangladesh army is including a 125g potato per member of the army regardless of rank to supplement a decreasing rice diet.[6]

The starch in raw potatoes cannot be digested by the human digestive system, so avoid eating potatoes raw.

Avoid potatoes with green skins. The green indicates the presence of glycoalkaloids, which are toxic. These areas are not destroyed by cooking, so cut away green areas prior to cooking or discard entirely green potatoes.

I never realized potatoes could hurt you. Besides launched from a spud gun.

--B Man

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