Washington Potato Commission exec: ‘We’re out of acres’

“We just don’t have any room for any more potatoes,” Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington Potato Commission, says.Washington potato exports continue to grow each year but not as fast as those of competing countries, said Chris Voigt, executive director of the state’s Potato Commission. Potatoes from the European Union have cut into Washington potatoes’ market share on the Pacific Rim, Voigt said. “We’re starting to see a lot of European french fries showing up in Japan, China and places where we normally didn’t run across as much of them,” he said. “We’re actually hoping there’s a way we can grow or plant more potatoes here in Washington, because we know there is demand in the Pacific Rim, but we’re out of acres,” Voigt said. “We just don’t have any room for any more potatoes.” The only way to increase exports is to cost-effectively bring more water to dryland production areas, or somehow increase yields, Voigt said. “We’re trying to work on both of those,” he said. Read more

‘Should I Eat Potatoes?’ 5/5 nutrition experts say ‘yes, of course’…

Image result for Should I Eat Potatoes?Potatoes are the most consumed vegetable in America, but that doesn’t stop throngs of tater haters, who malign them as starchy and fattening. So are potatoes healthy?5/5 nutrition experts say yes — and want to shine up spuds’ reputation. “It is a pity that potatoes got a bad reputation for being fattening, because potatoes are a very nutritious, satiating and low-calorie food,” says Trudy Voortman, nutrition scientist at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands. And a 2014 study also found that potatoes don’t, in fact cause weight gain. “When prepared in a healthful manner there is no reason to not eat potatoes regularly,” says study author Britt Burton-Freeman, PhD, director of the Center for Nutrition Research at Illinois Institute of Technology. “They may help in the prevention of certain cancers, and one study found that consumption of them could help in managing blood pressure in obese individuals without weight gain,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, registered dietitian and manager of wellness nutrition services at Cleveland Clinic. Read more in TIME Health. Also read this

Crispr: Why gene editing is the next food revolution

Related imageZachary Lippman advanced the selective breeding process of tomatoes with a little nip and tuck of the plant’s own DNA, and now the “edited” plant is about to bear fruit in the field. “There’s a long way to go, but what we have able to do in the last four or five years is unbelievable,” says Lippman, a professor of genetics at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. “It’s science fiction.” He created the plants using gene editing, a technology—based on a natural process—that allows researchers to cut out certain bits of DNA in order to control traits. The cell’s genetic structure then repairs itself automatically, minus the targeted gene. His tomatoes are now programmed to produce double the number of branches and, as a result, twice the tomatoes. Read full National Geograhic article

Potatoes and cars: A tribute to the spud on National Potato Day

Potatoes and cars — such an unusual combination… However, there are quite a few scenarios where potatoes intersect with vehicles and transportation. Here are just four car-related celebrations of the spud, to help celebrate National Potato Day on Aug. 19. It’s common knowledge that you can use a potato and some wire to provide electricity to a light bulb. However, few people have modified this experiment to restart a car battery. It turns out that rubbing a sliced potato on your car’s windows will help prevent them from fogging up. The bodywork of the University of Warwick’s Formula 3 eco-friendly race car was made from potatoes. Make extra money…with potato transportation – this is what Alex Craig did when he founded Potato Parcel back in May 2015… (Source: The NewsWheel)

Does glyphosate cause cancer?

Image result for roundupPosted on A year in the Life of a Farmer: “Glyphosate and cancer. This is something we are hearing so much about, seemingly all of the sudden, with major stories breaking in the last week. Just last Friday, a court case in California resulted in a $289 million dollar payment to a man named Dewayne Johnson, who claimed his years of using glyphosate (also known as Roundup) caused him to develop cancer. A few days before this story broke, glyphosate use was suspended by a judge in Brazil pending a government reevaluation of its toxicity. What is going on here? I am a farmer who uses glyphosate. My dad started using it decades ago, and it has absolutely been the single greatest invention in agricultural history. And it is unequivocally, fantastically safe. It is one of the lowest toxicity herbicides we use on our farm. It is less toxic than alcohol. Less toxic than caffeine. So what is all this about?” Read more

‘Protecting Potatoes’: New display in Edinburgh highlights the importance of wild potato varieties

‘Protecting Potatoes’ is a new plant display with interpretation for summer 2018 at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It can be found in the Demonstration Garden and the Temperate Palm House, and has been funded by SEFARI. The aim is to highlight the importance of wild potatoes for the future survival of the domesticated spud. Now, it may not be immediately obvious how wild potatoes can be used to protect what is the fourth most important crop on a global scale. The simple answer is that they have useful genes which can tackle all sorts of threats to the potato crop. This is why research at the Botanics, and in particular at the James Hutton Institute, has focused on the so-called ‘crop wild relatives’ of potato. Working with the James Hutton Institute and SASA, the Botanics assembled a display of eight wild potato species. The display includes numerous forms of the domesticated potato.  Amongst these are some unusual and curious looking traditional varieties from the Andes. Read more

The glyphosate saga: $289 million Roundup cancer verdict sends Bayer shares reeling

Roundup products are seen for sale at a hardware store in San Rafael, California, on July, 9, 2018Bayer shares plunged on Monday, losing about $14 billion in value, after newly acquired Monsanto was ordered to pay $289 million in damages in the first of possibly thousands of U.S. lawsuits over alleged links between a weedkiller and cancer. After the verdict in favor of a California school groundskeeper with terminal cancer, Monsanto faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States over claims it did not warn of the cancer risks of glyphosate-based weedkillers, including its Roundup brand. But the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to insist that glyphosate is safe when used carefully. Bayer shares were down 11.2 percent, the worst performing stock on the Stoxx Europe 600 index, and on track to close at their lowest in almost five years. Barclays analysts said Bayer was in for a “litigious headache”.  Continue reading

Plants use calcium to send internal warning of attacking aphids

Scientists at the John Innes Centre have discovered how plants send internal warning signals in response to an attack by aphids. They found that when the insect feeds on a leaf it triggers the plant to admit calcium into the damaged cells. This small flux of calcium prompts the plant to signal that an attack is underway, and a larger amount of calcium is then mobilized from within the cell. These discoveries were the result of a collaboration between Professors Saskia Hogenhout and Dale Sanders. Professor Sanders elaborates on the findings: “We now know that when an aphid feeds on a leaf, the plant uses calcium as a warning signal. This signal forms part of the plant’s defense mechanism.” Understanding how plants respond and ultimately defend themselves from an attack is important for identifying ways in which these pests can be managed. Read more

Labor Terminators: Farming robots are about to take over our farms

Farming robot conceptOf the industries facing automation, agriculture could see the most upside from robots in the next few years. And the farming robot wave, along with other new agricultural technology, could come even sooner than you think. Loup Ventures managing partner Gene Munster compares this next agricultural revolution to the one seen last century, when new equipment, fertilizers, pesticides and high-yield crop breeds sparked an explosion in farm production around the world. “I think agriculture is the greatest near-term — I define over the next five years — opportunity around robotics and autonomy,” he said. The farming robot is actually just one new technology that will transform the sector. Today’s agricultural technology helps farmers plow and spray crops with greater precision. Now improved automation and big data analytics are joining with farming robot technology, pointing to big benefits.  Continue reading

Research report: Promising outlook for global potato chips market

The Global Potato Chips Market reached 26.5bn Euros by the end of 2017, with an average annual volume percent growth of 5.9% over the 2012-2017 period. According to Alan Deane, founding partner of research company Food for Thought (FFT): “At the top end of the market on a per capita basis in 2017, Ireland leads at 4.4 kgs per capita, followed by the United Kingdom (3.5) and Canada (3.4). This then drops rapidly for Spain (2) and the USA (2.32). This last surprisingly low figure in the USA owes much to alternative snacks such as popcorn and corn-based tortilla chips. The following 10 countries are in the 1 to 2 kg/capita range.”  Continue reading

Nutrition 101: The role of calcium in potato quality, production

Related imageCalcium plays an important role in the growth and development of plants, says Jiwan P. Palta, professor, Department of Horticulture University of Wisconsin, Madison. Palta writes in a factsheet that cell membrane health is very crucial to the survival and health of the plant cell. The health of the cell membranes can only be maintained in the presence of sufficient Ca around the membranes. Calcium is also an integral part of the cell wall. In addition, calcium is known to act like a hormone, thus regulating many growth and developmental processes in plants. Fruits and tubers are known to suffer from Ca deficiency. Deficiency of calcium in tuber tissue is even greater for potatoes grown in sandy soil because of the very low level of water soluble Ca in these soils.  Continue reading

Finally: New ‘Super Carb Diet’ is proof that cutting carbs isn’t necessary for weight loss

Image result for "super carb diet" potatoFor years, the diet industry has promoted the idea that carbs are ‘bad’ for our waistlines. If you want to be slim and fit, say goodbye to rice, potatoes and pasta (ignoring the fact, of course, that professional athletes often a mix of fast and slow release carbs into their diets). That is, until now. Because someone’s come up with the ‘Super Carb Diet’, which promotes the eating of ‘fibre-dense’ carbs. It’s the brainchild of former Biggest Loser trainer, Bob Harper, who has written a book entitled ‘The Super Carb Diet: Shed Pounds, Build Strength, Eat Real Food’. The principal is simple: adopt a maintainable, healthy, balanced, whole foods diet rich is complex carbohydrates like brown rice and potatoes, which will keep you fuller and more energised for longer. Prior to a heart attack, Bob was on a paleo-type diet, rich in protein and fat and very low in carbohydrate, and he says that its high-fat content left his body feeling off-balanced. Read more. And more

50 years on, McDonald’s and fast-food evolve around Big Mac

Image result for big mac friesMcDonald’s is fighting to hold onto customers as the Big Mac turns 50, but it isn’t changing the makings of its most famous burger. The company is celebrating the 1968 national launch of the double-decker sandwich. But the milestone comes as the company reduces its number of U.S. stores. McDonald’s said Thursday that customers are visiting less often. Other trendy burger options are reaching into the heartland. The “Golden Arches” still have a massive global reach, and the McDonald’s brand of cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets and french fries remains recognizable around the world. But on its critical home turf, the company is toiling to stay relevant. Kale now appears in salads, fresh has replaced frozen beef patties in Quarter Pounders, and some stores now offer ordering kiosks, food delivery and barista-style cafes. The milestone for the Big Mac shows how much McDonald’s and the rest of fast-food have evolved around it. Read more

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi is stepping down

Image result for Indra Nooyi frito Pepsi CEOIndra Nooyi, 62, will make way for company insider Ramon Laguarta, a 22-year PepsiCo veteran, but she will remain chairwoman until early 2019, the company said. Joining Pepsico as a young executive, she was promoted to chief financial officer (CFO) in 2001 and was named CEO in 2006. “Leading PepsiCo has truly been the honor of my lifetime, and I’m incredibly proud of all we have done over the past 12 years to advance the interests not only of shareholders, but all our stakeholders in the communities we serve,” said Nooyi. During her dozen years at the helm, Nooyi led PepsiCo’s transition from a seller of sugary soft drinks and sodas and fatty foods to a greener more health and environment conscious company even at the risk of hurting its bottomline, although some critics saw her effort as inadequate. She reclassified PepsiCo’s products into three categories: “fun for you” (such as potato chips and regular soda), “better for you” (diet or low-fat versions of snacks and sodas), and “good for you” (items such as oatmeal). Read more