Happiness is 1600 pounds of potatoes
June 23, 2022 9:59 PM   Subscribe

The 20 Potato a Day Diet versus the Nearly All Potato Winter by Carol Deppe

Carol Deppe also cautions against late blight. Book Review: The Tao of Vegetable Gardening by Carol Deppe:
Carol explains (Late Blight 101, page 96) why we need to be more careful about Late Blight now. Previously there were several strains of Late Blight, but they were all in the same mating group and could only reproduce asexually (requiring live plant material) – unless we left cull piles of potatoes in our fields, we only got the disease if we were unlucky enough to have spores blow in or be imported on diseased plants. This has now changed and newer strains of Late Blight, from both mating groups, have moved into the US. The disease will be able to evolve more rapidly, and the oogonia (sexually propagated ‘spores’) can persist in the soil. We will need to develop tomatoes and potatoes with stronger resistance. We will need to be more careful and not put any store-bought tomatoes in our compost piles. We will need to get better at recognizing late blight symptoms and acting swiftly. See http://usablight.org/.
posted by aniola (6 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Somehow, I feel eponysterically duty-bound to comment on one of these potato posts.

So, here it is.
posted by The Potate at 10:54 PM on June 23, 2022 [15 favorites]

That was an interesting read, and at the same time I'm saddened that a well educated person doing interesting, useful work is surviving off mostly potatoes out of necessity. It sounds like it was just one tough year, but still.

And yet the alternative is what, working at an agricultural research college, or Monsanto?
posted by jellywerker at 5:02 AM on June 24, 2022

This got me interested in the weird varieties of potato listed, because at our local stores you can find russet, Yukon gold, and that’s about it.

Turns out potato plants accumulate viruses. The only way to fix this is to clean them up in a lab periodically to de-virus them, generating clean plants and then growing the new seedlings. Which unfortunately means that cool varietals are rarely grown at scale, because it’s easier to put the energy into generating clean plants for a few varieties (russet, Yukon gold) than it is to do the same for the weirdo ones (azul toro, for example).

In apple terms, it would be like knowing honeycrisp apples existed out there somewhere, but the only variety in the store is red or golden delicious because all the other apples have viruses affecting yield so are not grown at scale. Which would suck.

I want to eat weird new potatoes.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:17 AM on June 24, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'm saddened that a well educated person doing interesting, useful work is surviving off mostly potatoes out of necessity

A 5000 word article singing the praises of the potato's deliciousness and nutritiousness and ending with the observation that "Happiness is 1600 pounds of potatoes tucked away in the garage" suggests to me that the educated person in question is nowhere near as saddened by that as you are.
posted by flabdablet at 5:24 AM on June 24, 2022 [6 favorites]

Also, Deppe is one of the country’s great quixotic but practical heroes. While she might have preferred more cash (and gluten tolerance), her life’s work is improving sustainable personal-scale agriculture by doing it.

And that year she did it, and it was delicious. She says somewhere that an equal weight of squash was tedious to eat through, although her squash are famous for being good tasty keepers.
posted by clew at 9:11 AM on June 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

This kind of thing is pretty much why I still love metafilter.
posted by billjings at 11:24 AM on June 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

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