New season potatoes will start appearing on shopping lists and menus throughout the country this week, as growers harvest the first ‘Queens’ crop of the year. To mark the start of the new potato season, which is being welcomed by the Chairman of the IFA Potato Committee, Mooncoin-based Eddie Doyle, Bord Bia is launching 20 new summer recipes.
TV dietitian and nutritional expert, Aoife Hearne, is the newly-appointed potato ambassador for a Bord Bia-run campaign, aimed at encouraging more people to eat potatoes in Ireland. The initiative is called: ‘Potatoes – More Than A Bit On The Side’ and Hearne travelled to the Pettit farm in Wexford for the start of this year’s harvest, along with representatives from Bord Bia, Michael Hoey of the Irish Potato Federation and Eddie Doyle of the Irish Farmers’ Association Potato Committee.
Welcoming the start of the new season of Queens potatoes, Doyle said: “Queens potatoes are the real taste of an Irish summer and new season potatoes are very important to local growers. This is the start of a very busy season for potato growers across the country, as 20,000 tonnes of Queens potatoes are prepared for the retail and wholesale market. Due to colder temperatures in Spring, the start of the new potato season is two weeks later than usual, so the demand from consumers is very strong.”
Speaking about the importance of potatoes to a healthy diet, Aoife Hearne said: “The taste of new season Queens is one that brings back great childhood memories for many. Potatoes go hand in hand with healthy eating for adults and children alike as they are naturally fat free and gluten free and a great source of fibre, vitamin C and a variety of B vitamins. They also contain three times the amount of potassium of bananas.”
Hearne went on to say: “It’s really important that we dispel the myth that potatoes are fattening. Potatoes, like the new season potatoes that are being harvested this week, provide Irish people with a very important source of carbohydrates, which are essential for our bodies and particularly for brain function. Potatoes are a natural food, both versatile and delicious, making them a great food to include into the diet for all ages.”
The Potato Sector Manager with Bord Bia, Lorcan Bourke, explained how potatoes are still a firm favourite at mealtimes. He said: “1.65 million Irish households will buy 120 million packs of potatoes, spending an estimated €175 million on them this year. New season potatoes are the real taste of summer for many Irish people, so it’s an ideal time to highlight how versatile and nutritious they are. We are launching 20 family-friendly summer recipes on www.potato.ie, to show how convenient and versatile the potato is, adding to the 40 other delicious recipes that are already on the website.” Further details about the Bord Bia campaign and access to the full list of recipes can be found at www.potato.ie.
The three year ‘Potatoes - More Than A Bit On the Side’ campaign is co-funded by the EU, Ireland’s potato industry and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.