Can po­ta­toes be con­ve­nience food?

NZ Grower - - Product Groups - By Niki Bez­zant

I’ve seen so much huff­ing and har­rumph­ing, for ex­am­ple, over pre-chopped veg­eta­bles ready to roast in the oven. Or pre-chopped stir-fry or vege soup mixes.

Why? Be­cause, the of­fended ones say, ‘peo­ple should be able to do that them­selves’. The im­pli­ca­tion (or some­times the frank state­ment) is that ‘peo­ple’ are sim­ply lazy and/or stupid if they don’t do this ba­sic kitchen prep for them­selves. Imag­ine what the so­cial me­dia judges would make of the range of prod­ucts from Daly Po­ta­toes in Tas­ma­nia, de­signed to make po­ta­toes more con­ve­nient. The range in­cludes sev­eral va­ri­eties of fresh po­tato salad, as well as ‘ready to cook’ chopped and sea­soned roast po­ta­toes in sev­eral flavours, ready to pop into the oven or mi­crowave.

In a story at fresh­, owner Susie Daly said the prod­ucts are a re­sponse to the de­clin­ing mar­ket for fresh po­ta­toes as con­sumer de­mand changes. "Peo­ple be­gan to over­look the po­tato and for­get how ver­sa­tile it re­ally it is," Susie is quoted as say­ing. "Schools no longer teach kids how to cook so many peo­ple don't ac­tu­ally know what to do with them; also these days peo­ple are busy they don't want to stand and peel po­ta­toes then wait for them to cook, they also want a bit of added flair." The re­sult: spicy harissa; duck fat or rose­mary and gar­lic flavoured po­ta­toes ready for roast­ing, or how about a mild curry or ba­con and Di­jon po­tato salad, ready to eat? And if that wasn’t enough, Susie and fam­ily also make vodka on the side from their po­ta­toes. Their prod­ucts, per­haps not sur­pris­ingly, are prov­ing pop­u­lar with Aussie con­sumers. Per­son­ally, I think this is very clever and in­no­va­tive prod­uct de­vel­op­ment. Who’s to say po­tato grow­ers can’t do more than just de­velop more va­ri­eties? This is adding value, and get­ting peo­ple eat­ing more spuds at the same time.

I have no prob­lem with so-called ‘con­ve­nience’ foods, es­pe­cially if they help peo­ple eat more veg­eta­bles. Yes, some peo­ple might be lazy or lack food knowl­edge. But so what? Why shouldn’t they take ad­van­tage of con­ve­niently pre­pared prod­ucts that might help them de­velop kitchen con­fi­dence? Lots of peo­ple are busy; time to cook is dif­fi­cult to find some­times. And you know what: some peo­ple just don’t like cook­ing.

That can be a shock to a foodie, who can’t imag­ine any­one not want­ing to hand­craft their own sour­dough. But we’re all dif­fer­ent. As Nigella Law­son pointed out in her re­cent talk to a group of Auck­land fans: “You’re not a morally su­pe­rior be­ing just be­cause you cook”.

That’s a re­ally good re­minder, and, per­haps, an in­spi­ra­tion for our own po­tato grow­ers? There’s got to be more clever ideas like Susie Daly’s.

If there's one thing guar­an­teed to get some of the foodie purists het up on so­cial me­dia, it's ‘pro­cessed' or prepack­aged ver­sions of pri­mary pro­duce.

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