Bread afflicted? Praise for potato

In addition to other life choices, I want to eat more locally. These days, a lot of people do. But I know that if I shop at a farmer’s market, I’m likely to be offered selection of expensive greens (that aren’t filling), breads and soups (where do the raw materials come from?) or meat (which I’ve all but stopped eating; no, I don’t want to see a picture of the animal you’re selling when it was alive, thanks).

There isn’t all that much that’s local and filling. I get apples, apple butter, cheese and cabbage. And sometimes lots of potatoes.

This is the United Nations International Year of the Potato (really; tons of facts there), which is worth remembering this year, when the cost of staple grains is so terribly high. Potatoes can yield more food in a given space than wheat, rice or corn. That might saves lives. And somebody grows them in southern Pennsylvania, which makes Sunday-at-market a bit more rewarding.

Passover starts tomorrow night, and I can only imagine how many potatoes will appear on Jewish tables, if only as potato starch in a sponge cake.

I recommend a blog post by Sharon, a mediation on Passover and potatoes, at Riot 4 Austerity: “The Lowly Potato and the Power of Vegeculture“.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

1 comment

  1. You write: “Potatoes can yield more food in a given space than wheat, rice or corn.” Back when I lived in a place where I had a garden, I once got 50 pounds of potatoes out of a raised bed that was eight feet long and three feet wide.

    The downside of potatoes in my climate is that they are susceptible to scab, a viral infection that lives in the soil and pretty much means that you have to buy your seed potatoes from someone else (can’t use a few of this year’s potatoes for next year’s seed potatoes). The downside to potatoes for city gardeners is that they are a below-ground crop, and too often the soil in city gardens is contaminated by lead from lead paint run-off. But these are minor downsides to a truly amazing vegetable.

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