Food and Ingredients News

Potato Council turns up shocking vegetable know-how stats

Oh my life, I’m so sorry. I do so keep tittering. It’s taken me an absolute age to start writing this. Okay – deep breath…and begin…
…over on the Great British Chef’s blog, they have an article about the ineptitude and ignorance of adults when it comes to knowing what are or what to do with vegetables. That I can sort of understand and it is so not a laughing matter.

When one in five adults in the UK believes that parsnips grow on trees, we’re in big trouble. We all know that they come out of pods, of course. But it’s not the context of the article that’s slaying me – it’s the people who conducted the survey – oh, Lawdy, I’m off again. Composure, love, c’mon.

According to the Potato Council (did anyone have Mr Potato Head? I just keep seeing variations of all of the different disguises sported by said character, sitting around a table of war – I’m so very sorry), not only did swathes of the 2,000 correspondents in the study lack knowledge of some of the absolute staples of the vegetarian portion of our diet, but also 95% weren’t at all phased by their ignorance. Is it any wonder that obesity and type two diabetes is abound?

Mr Potato Head kwikloks
credit: A Healthy Mr Potato Head, kwikloks 

Here are just a few snippets of the worrying results that the survey, conducted ahead of Potato Week and, one would expect, to highlight the exact lack of knowledge that the results, maybe somewhat predictably, turned up:

  • Twenty percent of all adults polled were blissfully ignorant of potato brands King Edward or Maris Piper.
  • Approximately one hundred of the adults surveyed believed that the Granny Smith was a variety of potato, whilst
  • a further two hundred thought that tomatoes were harvested out of the ground.

Incredible as it sounds, TGBC article makes a very good point. With even vegetables sliced and diced and microwave-ready from the coolers and freezers in the supermarkets, why should adults possess in-depth knowledge of the origin of each species of vegetable they ‘prepare’ for their families?

Oh, and that was another thing – not only was not recognising traditional potato brands or believing that some brands of apples were quite literally la pomme de terre an issue, but also many subjects said they had an issue cooking spuds, once they’d got past that tricky stage of identifying them.  I’d love to see how the Granny Smith French Fries turned out…moving on.

From not being able to make ‘fluffy’ roasters (50%) to boiled potatoes crumbling into the water (34%) to mash being too lumpy/sloppy (28%), all were cited as barriers to culinary prowess using the most basic ingredient in the kitchen.

It may help those struggling that the Potato Council has issued a re-classification for spud-types. I’m not as confident as Caroline Evans, of the Potato Council, in her belief that the new branding will help struggling chefs to “…pick the potato that’s right for each dish, every time.” The new classifications are:

  • Fluffy
  • Salad
  • Smooth

What do you think?  Lord help them when they have to make chips, that’s all I can say…talk about half-baked?

Cookery Courses News

Get out your greens – it’s National Vegetarian Week

Calling all vegetarians – if you’re unaware, next week is National Vegetarian Week. Everyone thinks that, just because you’ve chosen a meat-free lifestyle, you’re bound to have signed up to all of the websites in the world about going Vegan, attend vegetarian cookery courses and sail out to save the whale with Greenpeace at the weekend. For the carnivorous types, the thought of going without a bit of red-blooded protein every day beggars belief.

It would be easy to sway towards the demand and use this week to press home the issue – ‘herbivores are right, omnivores are wrong’. But next week is choosing a different path. In a recent article, Monica Shaw caught up with two renowned vegetarian chefs who are not only providing eateries and cookery schools for meat-free diners but are also now accepting the fact that omnivores are not the enemy and just want to learn to cook vegetables that actually taste nice to go with their main course.

First of all, the Great British Chefs blogger caught up with Rachel Demuth, owner of the restaurant of the same name and ‘The Vegetarian Cookery School’. With the emphasis on time, the school has seen one of its cookery classes, ‘Fast and Delicious’, sell out time and again.

If you look inside anyone’s freezer, there is usually the odd bag of greens; beans, peas and even sprouts. But Rachel’s cookery class extols the virtue that everyone should have at least enough fresh vegetables in their pantry to be able to serve at least the minimum of fresh vegetables with every meal to add taste and nutrition alongside your canned and frozen vegetables.

Even if these are simply your staple vegetables – no need to go on a mad shopping hunt to try to find the exotic and expensive – Rachel’s recommendation is the simple frittata – simple, basic and suited to almost every veg you can name just to fry off in the basic egg mix.

Banging a similar drum is Mildred’s Vegetarian Restaurant head chef, Daniel Acevedo. Again, Daniel sees a fridge full of fresh veg as an absolute necessity. Although his interest is predominantly in the restaurant, he suggests that anyone looking to get their 5-a-day in every day (and not have to hold a victory parade on the day they achieve the feat once a month) always has the option of a simple salad or soup if there are fresh vegetables to hand.

There are plenty of planned events across the UK to run in conjunction with the Veg-fest, which officially gets under way Monday May 21st. If you’re looking to improve your vegetarian cookery prowess, there are plenty of choices on our cookery courses page that incorporate this niche, as well as a whole bulletin of other information to mark the event expected to go through the search engine pages.

No doubt I’ll meat meet you there.