Thursday, February 24, 2005

China/Spuds/A Wal-Mart World

Hello Mr. HappyTater

With the rapacious international growth of big-box megastores like Wal-Mart and Home Depot, you'd think there'd be more selection in the local produce aisle. By now, I think you've surmised I don't care much for these commercial behemoths. Fortunately or not, that's the way the world is headed. And who's leading the charge? America is still uptown-ranking, but the 'real' driver of that 18-wheeled pork wagon we call the world's economy is of course, China. They've been headlining the news lately, and with good reason. It's a huge market, steadily growing at almost triple that of the U.S. economy. Wal-Mart has thirty-one stores in fifteen Chinese cities, employing 16,000 people and providing those "everyday low prices" to hordes of newly-wealthy but spendthrift Chinese citizens. One store can make $60,000 in one day. America does a tremendous amount of trade with China, so much in fact that many folks are worried about inbalances and unfair practices, but that's for another discussion. Remember when your local American Wal-Mart proudly displayed "Made in America" products? What happened to all those signs? *hmmm* The real question here though is...shouldn't we expect the variety of foods on offer to match the variety of goods? Not exactly.

There are over 4,000 species of potatoes being grown in the Andes, their native home. Sadly, these varieties are endangered so you may never get to taste a black-colored puma maki or a mealy potato. What's available in your local grocery store is probably limted to Idaho russets, a bag of red "new potatoes", or if you're in a trendy large city, you may luck out with a whopping FIVE different varieties. OH-BOY! So you've got to wonder whether the American consumer is missing the boat, what with all the choices we have when looking to purchase oh...toothpaste or strawberry jam. Well buds and budettes, it seems we're missing a whole lot.

What you can do is this: run on down to you local Borders books, which may still have - for the low-low closeout price of $5.99 - a copy of a wonderful resource on vegetables & organic gardening: Botanica's "Organic Gardening" by Dr. Judyth McLeod. There's something about British writing; I can sometimes be found writhing in hysterical laughter at the mere mention of 'spanners' and 'bonnets', in reference of course to 'wrenches' and 'automobile hoods.' Rest assured, there's no shortage of weird-to-Americans terminology in this voluminous little text.

So now you're all set, the book lays it out, for six bucks. Potatoes are extremely easy to grow in a home plot. My crop of baby reds last year sprouted from rejects I let sit for too long, so I threw them in some soil in an old plastic storage bin with holes and *whoosh*, taters! For all you black thumbs, numerous resources to cultivate easy veggies exist everywhere on this here matrix of minds we call the internet. It's refreshing to know that we aren't slave to the store's paltry selections. It's also cool to realize growing your own food is only a few mouse clicks away. Well, add "dirt under the fingernails" for authenticity.

Which brings me to Bonsai Potato. And yes, it is exactly what is sounds like it might be.


Blogger Queen T said...

ah! bonsai potato! who would have thought that I had such a jewel resting right on my counter. i am glad that i now know where you are in the blog world...will be checking you out some more.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


3:13 AM  
Anonymous bonsai tree said...

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9:30 PM  

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