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Chinese push for potato popularity

A+woman+sells+potatoes+on+the+side+of+a+highway+in+Yunnan%2C+China.+Efforts+to+increase+potato+consumption+are+widespread%2C+spanning+from+new+restaurants+to+various+propaganda.++%0A
A woman sells potatoes on the side of a highway in Yunnan, China. Efforts to increase potato consumption are widespread, spanning from new restaurants to various propaganda.

A woman sells potatoes on the side of a highway in Yunnan, China. Efforts to increase potato consumption are widespread, spanning from new restaurants to various propaganda.

A woman sells potatoes on the side of a highway in Yunnan, China. Efforts to increase potato consumption are widespread, spanning from new restaurants to various propaganda.

Anne Calonico, News Team Leader

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Stir-fried potatoes. Potatoes with vegetables. Chicken potato soup. Cold potatoes with sesame sauce. While these odd dishes are far from Chinese staples, they could be in the future.

Even though the potato will be implemented into new dishes, rather than directly substituting it for rice and noodles, a shift in culture is occurring regardless.

China, the largest producer of potatoes, is currently enduring an agricultural revolution that is attempting to shape the way the Chinese eat. Attempting to place the potato on the forefront, the Communist-led government has hopes of making it a national staple by 2020. The rise of the spud stems from the need to prevent the worsening of land and water shortages, reported by usatoday.com.

Pound for pound, the potato requires 30 percent less water than China’s traditional staples of rice, wheat and maize. And it provides more calories and vitamins per acre, according to usatoday.com.

Although China suffers considerable industrial air pollution, already scarce clean water supplies are dwindling. BBC.com reported that water ministry officials say more than 80 percent of rural wells in China’s north-east contain water unsafe for drinking. Livestock waste, fertilizers and pesticides enter rivers, lakes and other various water sources; the polluted water is brought underground with rainfall and snowmelt contributing to aquifers.

In Feb. 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture reported by 2020, the potato planting area will be expanded to 6.7 million hectares (one hectare equal to 100 acres), the current area being around 5.5 hectares.  

Despite the ease in an increase in production, the real concern is the people. To many in China, the potato holds a generally unfavorable connotation.

“The potato isn’t really used in high-end cooking. It’s considered peasant food,” said Gu Weijian, a chef at one of Beijing’s better restaurants to usatoday.com

To defy the reputation of the potato in a country of 1.37 billion is a daunting task, tackling a growing opposition. As the standard of living increase and people become richer, their dies are changing in conjunction; there is an increase in animal protein and junk food. The potato chip contains promise, but it still remains challenging to transform the vegetable into a meaningful staple.

A conglomeration of propaganda, price incentives and new dishes is being utilized in this renewal.

Businesses are creating new dishes containing potatoes, whether it be in bread or risotto. Other companies are introducing Western dishes such as baked and mashed potatoes that typically incorporate butter and cheese.

If successful, China believes the progression of the potato will lighten the load of the pressing resource issues.

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Chinese push for potato popularity