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Serious, dedicated munchers wanted: Can Canadians eat their way through this french fry surplus?

Would you even recognize the version of yourself from February, 2020? Life changes fast. In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus has pushed most of us into an alternate universe of our lives that, only a couple months ago, would have been unthinkable. Corey Mintz reports for Macleans magazine.

Case in point, Canadians might be asked to eat 200 million pounds of French fry potatoes that have already been harvested, but won’t be moving through the usual restaurant supply channels. Belgium (the world’s largest exporter of frozen fries) has been facing similar situation. While some of their 750,000-tonne surplus has gone to food banks or fed to cattle, the potato trade association Belgapom has urged Belgians to cook and eat fries at home twice a week.

If Canadians are asked to heroically eat our way out of this fry surplus, can we do it?

This is a long way from November 2018, when Eric Rimm, a doctor and professor at Harvard’s department of epidemiology and nutrition, warned us of the dangers of eating a seventh fry. 

“I think it would be nice if your meal came with a side salad and six French fries,” Rimm told the New York Times, in a bygone era when we thought nothing of eating a meal in a restaurant next to a stranger, and we greeted each other with handshakes instead of shouting from a safe distance. Now we’re supposed to cook and eat french fries at home twice a week?

Some of these concerns could be circumvented by nationalizing food trucks. There are plenty of deep fryer-equipped vehicles sitting dormant right now. It’s not a hard to get these trucks (each equipped with two employees) on the road. Load them up with potatoes, sanitizer and start driving through town, distributing spuds. I think a lot of people would be thrilled to hear the chime of the potato truck ring-a-ding-dinging down their street. Why not swirl that up with some national pride?

If that seems silly, then consider this situation a preview to how our food consumption needs to change. Because of quarantine cooking as well as faults in our supply chains (we have plenty of food, just not the usual overabundance we usually let go to waste), we are already being forced into more sustainable behaviour. 

But what makes more sense: eating more French fries for a short while, or continuing to truck 80 million kilos of avocados from Mexico to Canada every year? Please tell me it’s the first because I would love to justify cooking junk food.

Read Corey Mintz full r eport in Macleans magazine here.
Photo: Courtecy CBC

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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