Romain Cools, secretary general of Belgapom, the Belgian union of potato producers, said the small European country has a stock of around 750,000 tonnes of taters that will rot if they are not eaten quickly. This is why he urges the Belgians to “eat fries twice a week, instead of just one.”
Patriotism has never been so tasty.
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This is a new solution to a serious problem that affects farmers in many countries around the world, as the closures of COVID-19 have disrupted many interdependent food supply chains. Idaho potato producers faced a similar problem.
Farmers have been forced to throw away milk, slaughter cattle or let their crops rot because they simply cannot get the staff or transportation to bring food to market. Meanwhile, others are hungry without access to this food in many countries around the world.
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Belgium produced around 5.3 million tonnes of potatoes last year and exported around half of that total, according to Belgapom.
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With an additional half of their typical harvest now stuck in warehouses, farmers urge politicians to prioritize local spuds in grocery stores while trying to get rid of the excess supply, which is worth around € 125 million, according to Forbes.
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Shipments of stored potatoes are already being sent to food banks, Flemish Agriculture Minister Hilde Crevits told the Brussels Times.
“Poor families will be supplied with fresh potatoes every week,” she told the newspaper. “In this way, part of the stock of potatoes will always be used and we will be able to avoid losing excellent food, for which our farmers have worked so hard,”.
Farmers still need more help to get rid of stored spuds before they go bad.
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Many social media users have said they would be happy to fix the problem, if only they could get to Belgium.
Others have recommended thinking outside the fry box with other potential uses for potatoes, including vodka and potato chips.
One individual presented the many possibilities by citing a line of The Lord of the Rings.
“Boil them, mash them, put them in a stew,” he wrote on Twitter. “Po-tay-toes. “
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you should know:
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