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New Potatoes Remind us to Value Diversity

2019, May 14 | A Practice For Spring

STORYTELLING: DO WE TAKE THE LOVE OF THE POTATO FOR GRANTED?

From chips to crisps to mash to rosti, we humans have a love affair with the potato. But, it is a love affair mainly taken for granted. There are more than 4,000 varieties of potato. How do their flavours vary? Which grow regeneratively and organically in your local soils?  Any idea?

Originally hailing from the Andes, potatoes are a remarkable food that has shaped human history. When they were introduced to Europe they grew too easily to be considered cultivated food and it were considered to be for peasants. Many peasants had no choice for food BUT potatoes as easily cultivated potatoes were all they had to sustain themselves. As we know from the Irish Potato Famine, those who overly relied on a single monocrop faced the repercussions of relying on monocrop farming, instead of planting a biodiverse crop of foods that align with all the flora, fauna and microbiota of an ecosystem to build up natural defences to pests.

The truth is that most potatoes we eat today are still generated from monocrop production. If that causes you to pause, it should. Pouring fertilisers and pesticides to shift an ecosystem to foster the life of just one plant weakens an entire ecosystem through biodiversity destruction, including soil degradation. It does put the potato on your plate at risk. The answer? Cultivating a diversity of spuds, alongside a diversity of other plants and animals in ways that support biodiversity and healthy soil. And, guess what? These approaches can lead to GREATER overall food yields to feed a growing population. Less, my friend, IS more when we talk about food security.

Most of the year potatoes we lose sight of the remarkable nature of the potato´s vitality. Yet, in spring, when the first new potatoes arrive on the scene, it´s ALL different! We look forward to the arrival of the first potatoes. When I was living in the UK, I recalled my delight when the Jersey Royals would hit the shelves in April or May. Whichever new potato is common in your neck of the woods, pay attention to when that potato arrives. What does it tell you about the growing season. And when you cook them up, lend a sensual thought to how these potatoes taste a wee bit different to those you munch on the rest of the year.

BEGINNER´S MIND

That is the Beginner’s Mind question that will aid you in your nature relatedness practice by expanding your curiosity and helping you build your fluency in the language of nature – a language you intuitively know as nature is not something that is OUT there, it is IN you. Cooking and eating can be a way to remind yourself that you are intricately connected to the full cycle of life.

 

Ritual – A Variety Show of Smooshed New Potatoes

Rituals are how we turn thoughts into actions and reinforce our values.  When cooking is as much about the process as it is about the end product, you can create moments that help to reinforce your intent to enhance your identity as a part of nature.  Tell stories, consider beginner´s mind questions, use all of your senses as you cook and you will be creating mindful moments that enhance your well being and eventually will transition into more eco-friendly habits by default as you see yourself as nature, in constant exchange with life cycle that you can see and that which you cannot. 

As you approach this recipe, think about biodiversity. Give it a try with your favourite spring new potatoes, then try it with other varieties and compare and contrast lending a thought to the different flavours, what that means about the different times of year those potatoes are in season and even the types of soils or climates they adapt to best.

INGREDIENTS

750 grams new potatoes, 2 tablespoons organic rapeseed oil, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, sea salt and black pepper, 2 tablespoons parsley.

METHODPreheat oven to 220c. Cover the potatoes in a pot of water on the stove, bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are easily pierced with a knife. Remove from the stove and drain. Lay the potatoes on a chopping board and use a tea towel to lightly smoosh the potatoes. You are trying to crack them so that they will open up their nooks and crannies to roasting oils. Place the potatoes on a roasting tray, drizzle with oil, vinegar, garlic powder, paprika and a hearty pinch of sea salt. Bake for 20 minutes until browned and lightly crispy at the sides. Remove and sprinkle with fresh parsley, season and serve.