Top Crop Manager

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INTRODUCTION: Consumers need to know what we know about potatoes

How can anyone not like potatoes? Whether they’re mashed, pan-fried, French-fried, home-fried, riced, boiled, baked, roasted, hash-browned or prepared in one of a dozen other methods I haven’t mentioned, this import from South America is a culinary delight.


How can anyone not like potatoes?

Whether they’re mashed, pan-fried, French-fried, home-fried, riced, boiled, baked, roasted, hash-browned or prepared in one of a dozen other methods I haven’t mentioned, this import from South America is a culinary delight.

When I look at the cover of this year’s issue of Potatoes in Canada, I see the smiling countenance of Jeroen Bakker, a potato breeder with HZPC Holland B.V., who, in our story on new varieties on page 18, states he knew he wanted to be a potato breeder when he was 12 years old. I’m certain that if I were to do a quick survey of potato growers on the Island, in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Alberta or Ontario, I would find a similar level of enthusiasm.

Similarly, there are researchers working diligently to protect potatoes from a legion of weed and pest species and disease pathogens. Like breeders and growers, they believe in what they do and derive satisfaction from the tangible results of their work.

Message not getting through
If you have read our other issues of Top Crop Manager or browsed through our website blogs, you know I am not an avid supporter of the mainstream media. Why? Because they lie (either intentionally or by omission) or misrepresent or ignore the edicts of accuracy and integrity. Their message often is muddled because of the chase for headlines, the battle for market share and the need to “get the story ‘out there’.”

I’m reminded of an instance when a researcher was talking to a large-city reporter. The scribe was attempting to get the “real story” on glycemic index in potatoes. The researcher was trying to explain that, to a degree, the glycemic index in potatoes depends on the preparation method. Halfway through the explanation, the reporter, obviously suffering from a short attention span, cut in, asking, “Can we just say that potatoes are bad for people?”

As long as the media fail to get the “real story” straight – and this can apply to electric cars and literacy rates, as much as it does to potatoes – then the “real story” on new varieties, new uses for potatoes and, hopefully, new markets for potatoes, will be a tough sell. It will be left to growers, breeders, researchers and farm writers who believe in the sector and want to do as much as possible to help spread the word.

Pushing water uphill
A recent survey by Ipsos-Reid determined that the majority of Canadians trust farmers, yet understand little about farming. When I heard that, I thought, “Great! People want more information about agriculture!”

But the survey also found that most Canadians get most of what they know about farming from the mainstream media and the Internet.

That’s starving for information without knowing where to shop.

You can grow it, breeders can provide it, researchers can protect it and we can present all of the details for you.

But who tells the rest of the world the good news?