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Potato Research In Peru

in Issue 33 by

Of all the countries in the world, Peru is one of the most interesting in agricultural history. The diversity of plants and climates from rainforests to snowy mountains to hot deserts are all in a place about 1/8 the size of the United States. The origins of many important food crops such as potato, sweet potato, and certain peppers are here. Researchers in Peru and around the world are aware of the great importance of this region and many are devoting their life’s work to improving agriculture for the country’s people. I wanted to learn more about this curious place of so much diversity. The potato, for example: many thousands of varieties grow only in Peru – nowhere else. I…

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Yam – A Gentle Giant of Tropical Roots

in Issue 32 by

In January my husband told me we have several yams waiting to be dug, and we should start using them before the potato crops come in, here in Barton Creek. I asked why he didn’t tell me sooner. Soon afterwards a large, brown, muddy, knobby specimen appeared on our back porch; it must have weighed 10 pounds. But my husband said it was only half of the smallest one and these grew up as volunteers and uncared for! Yam, not to be confused with the smaller and unrelated sweet potato and also not to be confused with the wild yam, a herbal source of estrogen, is surely one of Belize’s under-appreciated foods. A vine that would thrive climbing up a…

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Beyond The Backyard – A Grain of Truth

in Issue 23 by

We have become used to the labels fat free, sodium free, cholesterol free, nut free; now gluten freeseems to be the latest trend. On the one hand we realize that the food industry is a business; so selling the idea that you need or suffer from something is inevitable. On the other hand we must consider the fact that incorrect labeling or secret ingredients for some people can become a matter of life and death. At a recent cocktail party two people said they were allergic to shrimp, one to oysters, two to nuts, one is lactose intolerant, one to the polymers of surgical gloves and four out of the ten were on gluten free diets. One may have celiac…

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Beyond The Backyard – Spud Bucket

in Issue 18 by

We tried to run a restaurant offering only local produce; however one of the items which caused major issues was the potato. Knowing the plight of the potato farmers in Belize I thought I should support them but also use cocoa yam, cassava, dasheen and sweet potatoes which grow very well here. The potato originally came from South America, taken to Europe where it was viewed with much skepticism, and it has been popularized only in the past 200 years, becoming a staple comfort food offered in many forms throughout the world. Although the food industry is somewhat trendy and items such as sweet potato fries are currently gracing the tables of North American restaurants, the favourite is still the…

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Potato Storage Using Rice Hulls

in Issue 18 by

Potatoes to be stored for long periods of time need to be in a cool, dark place. Light makes them sprout. What better way than packing them in rice hulls in holes in the ground or large containers! Ervin Plett, general manager at Country Foods, says that it is common practice among families in Spanish Lookout. Rice hulls may be agricultural waste material for some processes, such as polishing rice, but they are very useful for other purposes such as storing potatoes or onions. Rice hulls contain approximately 20% opaline silica in combination with a large amount of the phenyl propanoid structural polymer called lignin. Anyone who has ever tried to burn rice hulls knows how they do not easily…

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Beyond The Backyard – Divine Intervention – The Air Potato

in Issue 06 by

I was shown a strange looking tuber by an avid gardener. The attractive vine with pretty patterned green leaves, climbed high on a tall old tree and displayed an abundant crop of fascinating brown nubby looking potatoes. He said his pigs happily fed on them and that they are easy to grow. “Well how about for people?” “Never tried one.” Everyone likes to grow unusual exotic plants, especially edibles. So armed with a couple of samples I head home eager to try this intriguing vegetable. However I first decided to google air potato and see if it was truly edible. Imagine my surprise to find an onslaught of information. On the one hand the promoters selling the plants and then…

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