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The Humble Potatoe May Be the Solution to the World's Food Crisis - Potatoe Mounds Coming to a College Campus Near You

So are you ready to start growing potatoes under your bed in your dorm room or out on the balcony of your apartment? The time for such craziness may soon be upon us as we enter an era when farmers are turning their crops into ethanol fuel sources rather than making wheat and rice for our Wonderbread and Rice Krispies we are so used to eating for breakfast every morning before class.

The rise in food prices has affected the entire planet, especially third world countries like Egypt and Haiti, where the high cost of food has already lead to violence and riots. A variety of factors have been blamed for the food crisis all over the world, including the rise in fuel and energy prices and increased demand in countries with suddenly booming economies, like India and China, as well as climate changes wreaking havoc on crops. A lot of farmers have changed their crops from food to fuel, speculating on the interest in alternative fuels. The solution then, would be a crop that is not being used as an alternative fuel, like the potato.

To focus attention on this, the United Nations named 2008 the International Year of the Potato, calling the vegetable a "hidden treasure." Potatoes are native to Peru, and can be grown at almost any elevation or climate (or college or university campus): from the barren, frigid slopes of the Andes Mountains to the tropical flatlands of Asia, to the manicured gardens of Harvard. They require very little water, mature in as little as 50 days, and can yield between two and four times more food per hectare than wheat or rice.

The humble tuber is less expensive than wheat or rice and provides excellent nutrition in the hungry world. Despite the bad rap potatoes get in the Western World for being carb-heavy, potatoes have a lot of nutrition, including being just 110 calories significantly less than wheat, has nearly half of the Daily Value of vitamin C and are one of the best sources of potassium and fiber, in addition to having more protein than corn and nearly twice the calcium when boiled. Interest in alternative fuel sources has led many of the world’s farmers to speculate on their crops, using their fields for biofuel crops like corn and wheat, rather than food crops, which has been part of the food crisis.

The potato is now being investigated to help with food security. In Peru, the government has instituted a program encouraging baker’s to use potato flour, rather than wheat flour in an effort to bypass the high cost of wheat. Potato bread is being used to feed everyone from school children to prisoners and the military in the hope the trend will catch on to the masses.

Although potatoes originated in Peru, Peruvians eat significantly less potatoes than European countries. The developing world is where most new potato crops are being planted, and as consumption rises, poor farmers have a chance to earn more money. Potatoes do not have a lot of speculative interest in the global economy because they are difficult to transport without getting blight. But thanks to experiments in German engineering, virus-free potatoes are on the way, making transport and sell of potatoes on the global food market a real possibility and a potential solution to the problems the food crisis has brought about.

Article credit : WeEarth Network - An online community for the socially and environmentally conscious including a social network, magazine, online store and video studio. Become a WeEarth social network member (its free) to receive your own WeEarth blog, photo & video gallery and to meet other social and enviro conscious college and university students


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