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International Potato Day 2024: Understand the Theme and Importance

Let us honor the universal staple vegetable: the potato. No vegetable holds a candle to potatoes as we almost find a way to include them in most of our dishes.

Sarbani Bhattacharjee
International Potato Day 2024 (This image has been created with MidJourney)
International Potato Day 2024 (This image has been created with MidJourney)

On May 30, the world comes together to celebrate International Potato Day, an event designated by the United Nations General Assembly to honor the humble potato's major contributions to global nutrition, economy, and culture.

This year’s theme, “Harvesting Diversity, Feeding Hope,” describes the crop's immense versatility and its role in supporting diverse production systems, culinary preferences, and industrial applications, especially in times when many agrifood systems are under threat.

The Significance and History

International Potato Day aims to raise public awareness about the potato's economic, social, and environmental importance. The global campaign seeks to highlight the potato's contribution to food security, nutrition, and rural livelihoods while promoting sustainable agricultural practices.

The designation of this day in December 2023 by the UN General Assembly aligns with the broader goal of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Thereby, this is the first-ever International Potato Day!

Potatoes, first cultivated by the Incas nearly 8,000 years ago, have traveled across continents, becoming a staple in numerous cuisines. Introduced to Europe in the 16th century, the potato was initially valued as an ornamental plant before its nutritional and agricultural potential was recognized.

Today, about two-thirds of the world's population consumes potatoes, and they are a dietary staple for nearly half of the global population.

The Universal Nature of Potatoes

Potatoes are incredibly resilient and adaptable, capable of growing in diverse climates, including drought-prone and cold regions.

They are also relatively easy to cultivate and require fewer resources compared to other staple crops. Potatoes offer a diverse culinary profile. This flexibility, combined with their affordability, makes potatoes accessible to all socio-economic strata.

Nutritional Profile of Potatoes

Potatoes are a nutrient-dense food, rich in essential vitamins and minerals. A medium-sized potato provides:

Calories: 110

Carbohydrates: 26 grams

Fibre: 2 grams

Protein: 3 grams

Vitamin C: 28% of the Daily Value (DV)

Potassium: 620 milligrams (17% DV)

Vitamin B6: 10% DV

Potatoes also contain antioxidants and provide a good source of energy without any fat, cholesterol, or sodium.

Celebration and More

This day is celebrated to acknowledge the potato's importance in addressing global challenges such as food security, poverty alleviation, and sustainable agriculture. By recognizing the potato's role in diverse food systems and its potential to enhance food security, International Potato Day advocates for the replication of best practices in potato cultivation and the development of sustainable value chains.

Healthy Potato Dishes

Baked Potato with Greek Yogurt and Chives

Ingredients: Medium-sized potatoes, Greek yogurt, chopped chives, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Instructions: Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Wash potatoes and pat dry. Pierce each potato with a fork, rub with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 45-60 minutes until tender. Slice open and top with Greek yogurt, chives, and a dash of pepper.

Potato Fries: The Indian Style

Ingredients: Potatoes, turmeric, green chilies, onion and salt.

Instructions: In a pot, heat mustard oil and sauté chopped onions, diced green chilies, and potatoes. Add half a tablespoon of turmeric and salt to taste and sauté until the potatoes become comparatively tender. Serve with rotis or rice. A quick Indian recipe if you are looking for comfort food!

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