Economically and nutritionally the potato is one of our most important crops, yet the humble spud is repeatedly maligned and misunderstood.
Whilst broccoli and kale wallow in praise for their superfood prowess the potato is cast as the bad boy of the veg world. Forever tarnished by association with the chip pan, spuds don’t even make it onto the 5-a-day list.
But we’re here to bust a few spud myths and set the record straight. When you’ve read our list I’m sure you’ll agree that all the superfoods have going for them is good PR.
1. Feed the World
Who would’ve thought potatoes are the number one non-grain crop in the world and the staple food for two-thirds of the world’s population? Or that China is now the world’s largest potato grower?
2. Potatoes Best Source Of Nutrition Known to Man
Contrary to popular belief the potato ‘is the best all round source of nutrition known to man’. It’s a valuable source of protein, Vitamin B6 and C, and potassium – beating carrots on all fronts.
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations confirmed that the potato is the world’s most efficient crop. Due to the high yields, a hectare of land turned over to growing potatoes (sweet potatoes are the highest yielding) will produce more energy (calorific value) per hectare than any other crop on the planet.
4. Growing Potatoes for their Flowers
No one really thinks of growing potatoes for their flowers yet many varieties produce very pretty flowers and quite a number of you may well be growing potatoes for their flowers without even knowing it.
Solanum laxum (The Potato Vine) is a popular climber found in many gardens across the UK.
5. Importance to British Growers
In 2015, British Growers produced 5.43 million tonnes of potatoes. Consumption of fresh potatoes has been declining steadily since the late eighties mainly due to falling consumer demand thought to be attributed to the potatoes reputation as a the bad boy of the veg world. Blame chips!
6. Seed Potatoes Exports
Scotland is an important grower of seed potatoes, exporting around 65,000 tonnes of seed potatoes outside Europe each year.
7. Home Grown
Potatoes are one of the most popular veg to grow at home. Fast cropping, easy and so tasty plucked straight from the soil, home-grown potatoes account for about 7% of all potatoes eaten in the UK.
8. World’s Biggest Potato
The world’s biggest potato, weighing 4.98kg (10lb 14oz) was grown at home by Peter Glazebrooke in the UK. The potato was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records at the National Garden Show on 4 September 2011.
The potato is a stunningly versatile vegetable. As well as the standard fry, boil or bake, you can make soups, breads, pies, salads, scones and snacks. If you are in any doubt or need to rekindle your love of spuds then we heartily recommend Potato: a celebration of the world’s most versatile vegetable, by Alex Barker and Sally Mansfield.
10. Spenny Spud
Considering potatoes are the most cost efficient crop in the world it comes as a shock to discover they can also be one of the most expensive. Prized for its salty flavour, derived from the seaweed and algae in the local soil, La Bonnette, grown exclusively on the French Atlantic island of Noirmoutier sells for between 70-500 euros per kilo. Only 100 tonnes of La Bonnette are grown annually and all of them are harvested by hand.
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