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Year of the potato

I imagine the fact of this being the UN's International Year of the POTATO (their emphasis, not mine) had rather passed by even the most enthusiastic munchers of that redoubtable tuber, but IYotP it indeed is, or if you prefer, Année International de la POMME DE TERRE, or Año Internacional de la PAPA. And naturally enough, the equivalents in Russian, Chinese and Arabic. In Sinic terms it is Year of the Rat, which is quite apt.

While the idea of encouraging cultivation of potatoes as a solution to problems of malnutrition etc is laudable, there is just too much po faced material on the site for me not to mock it. After all, "We would not be celebrating the International Year of the Potato if potatoes weren't so good to eat!"

So...

"For many of those who work daily with the potato, it has become an often passionate way of life".

Clearly....

Stanislav Menard, president of the Slovenian Society for Sautéed Potato and Onions - "In front of a potato, we are all equal"

Lino Mamani - "is a papa arariwa ("potato guardian", in Quechua)

Fellow Europeans will be delighted to know that we lead the world in per capita potato consumption - 96 kg. Those weedy North Americans manage a mere 58kg.

That the UN is feting the spud makes the three way face off between Chile, Bolivia and Peru over its origins a tad more explicable. The UN treads softly on this topic, referring to the potato hailing from 'near the present border between Peru and Bolivia', so I expect Santiago's man at Turtle Bay to raise strenuous objections.



Anyway, should potatoes not be to one's taste, this is also the UN designated Year of Sanitation, of Planet Earth and of Languages. Note, however, 2007 - inter alia - was a year of nothing, "for fiscal reasons and to avoid any process of trivialization".

The success, or otherwise of IYP might be judged by noting some of the other international years the UN has declared - 1968's International Year of Human Rights. At a rough guess, by year's end a quarter, at most, of humanity lived in a liberal democracy. Both 1978 and 1982 were bash South Africa years, and that mission clearly was not accomplished. 1986's International Year of Peace saw the Afghan war, Iran/Iraq, East Timor, the Lebanese civil war, any number of guerrilla wars in Latin America, and innumerable conflicts in the Horn of Africa, among others.

If a child in 1979 one would have been feted in Year of the Child, and with a bit of decent timing, feted in Year of Youth in 1985. Women, the old, disabled etc have all been commemorated too, if not we chaps yet.

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