Fresh Is Best Sup­port Your Lo­cal Farm­ers!

The hum­ble potato: Canada’s most valu­able veg­etable

Simcoe Reformer - Times-Reformer - - NATIONAL NEWS -

A sta­ple in Cana­dian cup­boards, the potato is an in­cred­i­bly ver­sa­tile food. Whether boiled, fried or roasted, mashed, hashed or diced, it adds a hearty and nu­tri­tious touch to count­less meals. For nearly 20 years, Agri­cul­ture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has been work­ing hard to en­sure Cana­dian potato grow­ers and con­sumers alike have ac­cess to the best spuds on the mar­ket. Un­der the Ac­cel­er­ated Re­lease Pro­gram (es­tab­lished in 1998), the AAFC re­leases 10 to 15 new potato se­lec­tions each year fea­tur­ing an as­sort­ment of colours, sizes and other val­ued char­ac­ter­is­tics. Potato in­dus­try en­trepreneurs across the coun­try then eval­u­ate each crop and pin­point front-run­ners that meet the needs of Cana­dian con­sumers and pro­duc­ers in mat­ters of flavour, qual­ity and har­di­ness. Thanks to a com­bi­na­tion of tra­di­tional crop breed­ing tech­niques and cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy, sci­en­tists can boost the aes­thetic and nu­tri­tional value of pota­toes. For ex­am­ple, re­searchers have iso­lated a va­ri­ety with a low glycemic in­dex that could help con­sumers with ev­ery­thing from weight loss to di­a­betes man­age­ment. With names like Poppy, Glossy and Red Vi­ola, to­day’s mar­ket­place for spuds is more di­verse than ever! But de­vel­op­ing new va­ri­eties is no easy feat. Ac­cord­ing to the AAFC’s head potato breeder, Dr. Benoit Biz­imungu, it takes years to crack the for­mula for a nutri­ent-rich potato that’s re­sis­tant to drought and disease while pos­sess­ing a high yield­ing power. One thing’s for cer­tain: Canada’s pota­toes stand up to the nutri­tion test — es­pe­cially new, colour­ful va­ri­eties packed with pow­er­ful, disease-fight­ing an­tiox­i­dants. A true di­etary pow­er­house, the potato is great as a side dish, in sal­ads and dipped in ketchup. How do you pre­fer your spuds?

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