September 28, 2014

Potato pop-up store opens in Amsterdam

Filed under: Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 11:20 am

aardappelmannetjes-joost-vd-toorn-uair01Quick, what is the world’s foremost potato exporting country? Yes, it’s the Netherlands, a country that exports almost twice the amount of potatoes it grows, leading France by just a few fries (which are Belgian anyway).

Enough of the FAOSTAT fueled statistics. Yesterday a Pieperboetiek (potato boutique) opened on the Jan Evertsenstraat in Amsterdam. Modern Farmer writes:

Between 26 September and 11 October, 25 tons of potatoes will parade through Amsterdam on big farm trucks. […] The pop-up will offer a wide and colourful variety of potatoes. “At first we were planning to have 30 types, but then some breeds got sick. So, it’s going to be 20 types,” says Felicia Alberding, a freelance journalist who is teaming up with potato farmers in organizing this event.

To make the pop-up more potato-y, there will naturally be an array of potato-related activities. The theatre team Superhallo will perform ‘Knol d’Amour’ which, they say, is both an ode to the potato and a delicious love story. The theatre makers will also host a fry potato party that lets people choose, peel and fry their own potatoes while they are playing music.

There will also be a tattoo artist who uses potato-based ink and both vodka and carrot-and-spinach tea are served, according to the store’s Facebook page.

The boutique was the idea of farmer Krispijn van den Dries from the Noordoostpolder area who wants to breed a better understanding between farmers and consumers. Felicia Alberding: “In most countries, farmers have become invisible over the past years. That anonymity is one of the reasons many people don’t value food and how it’s made any more.”

(Photo of De Aardappelmannetjes by Joost van den Toorn by Uair01, some rights reserved; this is a sculpture in Zoetermeer made from rocks and gilded bronze. It depicts two potato figures.)

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March 15, 2011

‘Organic farming can be deceiving’

Filed under: Animals,Food & Drink,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 4:11 pm

When it comes to environmentally friendly products, we tend to collectively think that they’re automatically better than conventional products without even checking. The media and marketing play on these warm and fuzzy feelings all the time, which tends to be echoed by people whose need to believe always seems to outweigh checking the facts. Yes, these are nasty generalizations and yes, I too want to believe, but I don’t — yet.

After an aquaintance had posted an ‘I’m better than you because I eat less meat’ blurb on a mailing list, I promptly responded with our posting on producing meat is actually less damaging to the environment than producing cotton T-shirts. I’ll bet you she still buys cotton T-shirts.

However, I do agree that the video linked below seems to gloss over the issue of pesticides and other interesting comments the farmers were trying to make, but the deception is real: organic products have their own issues and according to everything I have read from several countries as an ordinary consumer, they are very often the same or only slightly better than conventional products.

And yes, killing animals is still killing animals, I got that part.

Watch the short video report: ‘Organic meat not better for the environment’.

(Link: Radio Netherlands)

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July 5, 2009

Netherlands to be on the top of the food chain

Filed under: Food & Drink,General by Eric @ 2:44 pm

It must have been about 10 years ago, that I became aware of the difference in attitude towards food between Germans and Dutch. I was having dinner with a German friend, when she joked over a slice of quadruple-stranded DNA tomato, that the Dutch were a clever people, packaging sea water into little red bags and selling these ‘water bombs’ worldwide as tomatoes. My reply that apparently the world was stupid enough to buy said water bombs was less well received…

Germans want their food to be ‘bio’: organically grown, without the use of fertilizer or pesticides. The section for ‘bio’ food products in supermarkets shows a continuous growth, on the expense of their non-bio counterparts and ‘bio’ supermarkets pop up on more and more street corners. Living in Munich for over four years, I must admit that I haven’t done any serious grocery shopping in the Netherlands as of lately. I do have the impression, though, that this awareness for the origin and nature of food stuffs is far less pronounced in the Netherlands than here in Germany.

I will thus be very interested to see how minister for agriculture Gerda Verburg’s plans for sustainable food (report ‘Duurzaam Voedsel’) will become effective. The goal is ambitious: “the Netherlands must lead the way worldwide to a sustainable and climate neutral production of food stuffs and be at the top of this movement by 2015” (source (German)). Considering that the Netherlands are apparently the second largest exporter of agricultural products, and on a budget of 20 million euro, this goal might even be viable.

Intensive campaigning and convincing marketing must raise the interest and awareness of the Dutch consumer for sustainable food products and set the trend for choosing ‘bio’. Additionally, the minister plans to fight the enormous waste of food products. An estimated 1.6 million euro worth of food is thrown away in the Netherlands on an annual basis and another 2 billion euro is lost during production and transport.

I think that the only way to get anyone, including the Dutch, to buy ‘bio’ is to make sure that it’s at the same price level as regular food stuffs. I do hope, however, that the minister’s plans include other options than a massive subsidy on bio products, and that a large part of the cash will be invested in research and development. After all, the Netherlands can’t continue to sell water bombs to the world…


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