Katherine Hayton | The great potato famine of 2014-2015
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31 Jan / The great potato famine of 2014-2015

It may not have hit the world headlines, but there’s a potato shortage in New Zealand. It sprang into sharp focus over Christmas when retailers weren’t able to keep their shelves stocked with potato chips. Dip sales fell in equal measure.

The whole country went into shock. We may not be Irish, but potato chips are one of our national foods. We have flavours that no other country would ever dream of having. And we still sell reduced cream solely so it can be mixed with dried onion soup to make a traditional kiwi dip.

I think there were a few happy nutritionists jumping around, but that was about it.

It’s not over, by the way. Every time we walk into our supermarket for our weekly shop we have to walk past the sign stating that due to a national potato blah blah blah.

And it’s not just the chips. The chips are just the bit that everyone worries about. There are very few new pototoes, and the ones there are aren’t very big.

All of this pretty much passed me by. Sure, I knew about it – everybody knew about it – but even when I’m not on a diet I’m not so far away from one that I indulge in potato chips. And I only need potatoes when we’re doing a roast, which is winter food.

But this morning it all hit home.

The reason for the potato shortage is that the weather has been inopportune for potato growth. Less potatoes, less crops, and the potatoes there are have a smaller yield.

Today I dug up my own home-grown potatoes. They’ve been sprouting and growing and flowering and growing and dying back and getting all ready for harvest. I was going to have a full-on potato haul in my cupboards tonight!

These are the results of my crop.

The teaspoon – yes that’s only a teaspoon – is in there for scale as otherwise you might believe that we grow rather big glad containers in New Zealand and the crop was fine.

It wasn’t fine.

Now I have to dry them off and store them for a really special occasion because after five months work I’m only getting one meal out of these suckers.

By Katherine Hayton in Katherine Hayton's Blog

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