Saskia Murphy pops up to rehabilitate humble spuds

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We’ve gone and done it again. Not only are us millennials making the world go to pot with our whimsical spending habits, demands for smashed avocado to be served with every meal and bizarre sober club nights, we’re now driving sales of potatoes down.

According to a report published by The Grocer, potato sales have fallen by 5.4 per cent since 2015 and, if the writer is right, us 18-34 year olds are to blame.

The magazine claims that the decline of the potato is down to millennials choosing “healthy, convenient and exotic” options over stodgy carbohydrates they consider to be fattening. Meanwhile, sales of rice have surged by 30 per cent in the last four years and noodles have also seen a significant boost.

As a potato enthusiast, news that my fellow millennials are shunning the humble spud concerns me. Not only are potatoes one of the most affordable and delicious staples around, they are also categorically not unhealthy.

A medium-sized potato is only 110 calories, and contains no fat, cholesterol or sodium. When it is eaten with its skin, a potato will have nearly half of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C and more potassium than a banana. So why are we turning our backs on them?

Well, I think it’s fair to say potatoes have been given a bad press over the years. Instead of explaining that potatoes are generally fine unless you cut them into chunks and throw them in the deep fat fryer (in which case they’re still fine but should probably only be enjoyed every so often), the diet industry has demonised potatoes. Potatoes are a carb, and we’ve been conditioned to believe carbs are bad. And yet in the 40 years or so since potatoes started getting their bad name, the nation isn’t getting any thinner. Instead it’s going the other way.

Perhaps potatoes need a revamp. Maybe we could do a potato pop-up. Millennials like pop-ups. Maybe we could get a spin doctor in to send out a press release and set the record straight: “Potatoes are fine after all. Everybody dig in.”

We may have no choice but to reignite our love of potatoes in the near future. If this no-deal Brexit thing happens we might need to rely on spuds to get us through the next 20 years or so. We’ll probably have to start growing them in the garden and eating them with tripe and evaporated milk.

Before it comes to that, I, for one, would like to see potatoes making a comeback. When it comes to our need for convenience, yes, a baked potato might take a bit longer to prepare than a packet of microwavable rice, but the pay-off is well worth it. A good jacket potato with a dollop of butter is like a hug in the gut. Microwavable rice tastes like ripped up pieces of sponge. And noodles are OK and all, but do they give you the same feeling of satisfaction and contentment as a stack of crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside roast potatoes or a pile of creamy mash? I’ll answer that question for you – no, they don’t.

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