Health/Nutrition/Food Safety

Video: Shifts in the US foodservice industry, and how chefs find inspiration from potatoes

In this episode of Potatoes USA’s “Keeping it Current” initiative, Kendra Keenan, Global Marketing Manager for Foodservice, talks about the shifts in foodservice and how chefs and operators from across the globe are finding potato inspiration for their menus and getting more creative to drive sales. Kendra also touches on the numerous marketing materials created for foodservice operators and where they can be accessed.

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Trending: ‘The Age of Agrochemicals is Ending – It’s Time for Agricultural Biotechnology’

As Europe moves to reduce its reliance on agrochemicals in the farming system over the next 10 years and beyond, a crucial question emerges: what replaces them? Agricultural biotechnology could provide the answer, writes Farhan Mitha in this insightful article published by Labiotech Insider. The use of agrochemicals — pesticides, fertilizers, and plant growth enhancers — has been crucial to humanity over the last century. Yet, their impact on the environment has become too profound to ignore, and they’re increasingly seen as 20th-century instruments that are ill-suited for 21st-century challenges.

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US potato industry focuses on re-establishing, growing America’s love of potatoes

The National Potato Council held their first ever virtual event this week. There’s been remarkable changes in the food system over the last few months because of COVID-19. That’s led to a lot of adjustments to the potato industry. “The versatility, the commonality and the nutritional benefits of the potato solidified our position with consumers—many of whom cooked their first potatoes at home over the past 90 days,” said Blair Richardson, CEO of Potatoes USA. Despite the hardships that COVID has presented, Richardson is still bullish for the potato industry.

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Talking Biotech: Where did GMOs come from? Former Monsanto scientist Robb Fraley recounts the advent of biotech crops

On the five-year anniversary of the Talking Biotech podcast published on the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) website, host and plant geneticist Kevin Folta sits down with former Monsanto chief technology officer Robb Fraley. He recalls the race to transform plants and his work as a leader at Monsanto. While the company did important work to advance crop biotechnology, Fraley says, Monsanto made little effort to explain genetic engineering to food companies, the media and consumers and was thus unprepared for the backlash against GMOs in the 1990s.

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Bayer to pay up to $10.9bn to settle US Roundup lawsuits

Bayer said today that it will pay up to $10.9 billion to settle litigation over the weedkiller Roundup, which has faced thousands of lawsuits over claims it causes cancer. Bayer said it was also paying up $1.22 billion to settle two additional areas of intense litigation, one involving toxic chemical PCB in water, and one involving dicamba, another weedkiller. The company continues to maintain that Roundup is safe.

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Late blight resistant potatoes in Uganda promise impressive returns

Potato is a popular crop in Uganda with great potential for income generation and improving nutrition. So much so that the Ugandan government has declared potato a key crop for the country. In Uganda, International Potato Center (CIP) partners with the National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) to release and promote improved varieties of potato and sweetpotato. NARO and CIP have developed a new version of the Victoria variety by adding three resistance genes (3R). The 3R Victoria potatoes are completely resistant to late blight.

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‘How the potato came to India and conquered our lives’

From foreign food to a pantry staple, the potato’s journey to India traverses thousands of kilometres and three centuries of culinary assimilation, writes Diya Kohli in this piece published by Conde Nast Traveller. And in times of inflation, it is an upswing in potato prices that throw budgets off for all Indians, from a regular middle-class home to a street food vendor and an upscale restaurant. In the early days of lockdown, people in India stocked up in bulk. Primary among their list of pandemic staples—rice, dal and potatoes.

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GRIMME Technica show will not take place this year, but all plants worldwide continue operations

Since 2004 the in-house exhibition GRIMME Technica has taken place every two years at our headquarters in Damme (Germany). The company says in a press release that due to the uncertain development of the Corona virus crisis and our responsibility to guarantee the greatest possible safety to visitors and staff, GRIMME Technica, which was planned for December 1-4, 2020, has been cancelled. Thanks to the introduction of strict hygiene rules and new working processes, all plants worldwide are able to continue their operations in manufacturing.

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Viewpoint: 70% of consumers say ‘natural’ food is healthier, but there’s no science behind the marketing hype

When you hear the word “natural,” what thoughts or images come to mind? If you think of flowers, puppies, fresh baked bread, or other wholesome ideas, you’re not alone, writes Jack Bobo on the Gernetic Literacy Project. Products that were once only found in “health food stores” or specialty stores like Sprouts Farmers Market, Whole Foods, or Natural Grocers are now available in traditional grocery and convenience stores.

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Yara takes action to avert hunger crisis in the wake of Covid 19

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of people facing acute hunger could double. Supported by the United Nations, the Norwegian government and African institutions, Yara is taking action and committing $25 million to provide food for more than one million people in Southern and Eastern Africa. Yara is launching Action Africa: Thriving Farms, Thriving Future – an initiative with the goal to mobilize support for 250,000 smallholder farmers in seven African countries to secure food production and improved food security. The initiative includes advocacy and partnerships, farmer connectivity and digital solutions, and operational support including 40,000 metric tons of high quality fertilizers

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Canada: Alberta’s potato farmers facing mental, financial stress from production cuts

As Alberta’s potato industry in Canada reels from the devastation of COVID-19, one industry spokesperson says he is worried the mental health and wellness of farmers could be at stake. Terence Hochstein, executive director for the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA), said recent blows to potato farms have stoked his concerns for farm families. Hochstein said the industry is sitting on some 100,000 tons of potatoes right now that need to be processed by September.

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Plant drug factories: GMOs and gene editing are poised to transform medicine. Here’s how.

Plant biotechnology is poised to drastically improve how we consume medication. Using the modern tools of genetic engineering, researchers are developing plant-based drugs that are cheaper, easier to take and even more effective than their existing counterparts. Tautvydas Shuipys reports for the Genetic Literacy Project. A Canada-based company has announced that using this same technology, they have produced a candidate vaccine for COVID-19 in twenty days.

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Europatat welcomes ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy; calls on Commission to ensure coherent and realistic approach

Europatat welcomes the Farm to Fork Strategy published today by the European Commission. There is a need to secure a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system, a message that the potato sector fully endorses, Europatat says. The Farm to Fork Strategy sets out regulatory and non-regulatory measures to make the EU food system a global standard for sustainability. In doing so, the Commission should take a pragmatic and realistic approach to this situation.

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USDA’s ‘Farmers to Food Box’ program to ramp up next week, Trump says

The United States will purchase 3 billion dollars worth of dairy, meat and produce from farmers and ranchers starting early next week, President Donald Trump announced in a Tweet on Saturday. “The USA will be purchasing, from our farmers, ranchers & specialty crop growers, 3 billion dollars worth of dairy, meat & produce for food lines & kitchens,” Pres Trump said in a tweet Saturday afternoon. The U.S. president noted that the government purchase is part of the USDA “Farmers to Family Food Box,” calling it “great news for all.”

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Potato power: Potatoes serve high quality plant protein that helps to maintain women’s muscles

Researchers from McMaster University have found that the potato, primarily known as a starchy vegetable, can be a source of high-quality protein that helps to maintain muscle. The findings, reported in the journal Nutrients, highlight the potential benefits of what is considered a non-traditional source of protein, particularly as dietary trends change and worldwide demand has increased for plant-based alternatives to animal-derived sources. This study provides evidence that the quality of proteins from plants can support muscle.

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Strengthening innovation to empower women potato growers in the Andes

The world is faced with a rising demand for food due to population growth, changes in dietary habits and the availability of agricultural resources. As a result farmers need to be more efficient and productive. The story of Gaby Quispe of Patacamaya, Bolivia, is typical and gives a simple illustration of how to achieve gender equity and the empowerment of rural women through the use of climate-smart technologies in potato production.

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PGA Executive Director: ‘Vulnerability of the Canadian supply chain tested to its limits’

In an Executive Director report, Terence Hochstein of the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) says: “As I write this article for May 1st, Canada is now 107 days from the first reported case of COVID-19. Never in the history of mankind has the entire world come to a screeching halt; the world economy is completely upside down. There are millions of opinions out there as to the seriousness of this pandemic and the forever lasting effects of what our lives will look like in the future.”

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Potato late blight in Europe

Didier Andrivon from INRA delves into the disease that once killed 1.5 million individuals in Ireland: Potato late blight, also known as Phytophthora Infestans It would be easy to think that a disease peaking over one hundred years ago is no longer a problem, but potato late blight continues to evolve and emerge in new places – similarly to the insidious reach of[Read More…]

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Packer Interview – Houston Food Bank reports on the ‘Buy Fresh’ program

The Packer’s Tom Karst visited April 24 with Sabrina Bosiacki, agriculture industry manager for the Houston Food Bank, about the promise of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Buy Fresh Program. “The amount of need that we’re seeing right now is unprecedented,” Bosiacki said. “Just two days ago (April 22), we distributed 1.3 million pounds of food in a single day, which far surpasses our old record that we had attained post-hurricane Harvey; so we’ve never seen anything like this before since we became a food bank in the 80s.”

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Organic farmers pivot from selling to restaurants to homes amid coronavirus

New York’s farmers who can no longer sell crops to Big Apple restaurants are turning to a new business model: Boxing up produce for the growing hordes of home cooks, Jennifer Gould Keil reports in New York Post. Zaid Kurdieh, an organic farmer in Norwich, NY, used to rely on sales to top chefs and restaurateurs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Thomas Keller and Danny Meyer for 60 percent of his revenues. But with Gotham’s dining scene shuttered, Kurdieh has pivoted from packing up “hundreds of pounds” of produce for restaurateurs to curating 12- to 24-pound food boxes for home chefs.

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Potatoes USA: ‘Potatoes show largest sales increase of all vegetables sold at retail in March’

Retail purchases of all potato products were 41 percent higher in March 2020 compared to the same time frame last year, according to figures released by industry marketing body, Potatoes USA. “Consumers give potatoes high marks for being a satisfying food that everyone enjoys and for being a great value,” said Blair Richardson, CEO of Potatoes USA. Fresh potatoes have experienced a 42 percent volume increase since the beginning of March and a 67 percent year-over-year dollar sales increase as of the end of the first week of April.

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As Covid-19 threatens global food security, fresh potatoes are back on tables

COVID-19 is driving demand for fresh potatoes in supermarkets and grocery stores across the globe as people stock up on inexpensive food. Fresh potato has become a favorite during the lockdown, along with rice, wheat flour, bread and pasta, the International Potato Center (CIP) says in a recently published report. The world should be prepared to guarantee availability of food at affordable prices over the next 12?18 months, or even longer, to effectively overcome the effects of the pandemic. Potato has a key role to play in ensuring global food security.

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Demand for fresh potatoes spikes at Canada’s Earthfresh Foods as consumers go ‘back to basics’

“The corona crisis has caused people to go back to basics and I don’t see that changing anytime soon,” according to Andrew George, Director of Sales at EarthFresh Foods, based in Canada’s Ontario province. He says people shop for staple items like potatoes that are nutritious, inexpensive and can be stored for much longer than many other fresh produce items. “In addition, consumers are looking for healthy food items to help build their immune system,” George told Marieke Hemmes of FreshPlaza in a recent interview.

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The impact of the ban on CIPC use on potato export: A Dutch perspective

The ban on the sprout inhibitor, chlorpropham (CIPC), is causing much controversy in the European potato industry. In an article by Martine van der Wekken of FreshPlaza, the author writes that the discontinuation of the use of CIPC could lead to significant issues, especially for Dutch potato exports to far-away destinations, when these products have to remain in containers for about two weeks or even longer during transit.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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