Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Feeding a rapidly growing population

According to the CIA World Factbook, China has a land area of 9.5 million square kilometers. The USA has 9.8 million square kilometers. Of that land (according to the World Bank), 17% of the land in the USA is arable, while only 11.3% of China's land is arable. China's population is more than three times the population of the USA. How can China feed it's people? Will people eat "potato mud?"

China tries to reinvent the potato to feed its hungrier population
China has a new miracle food in its quest to feed its people’s ever hungrier mouths: the humble spud.

Authorities with the country’s Ministry of Agriculture recently decreed that the potato will be a central pillar of national efforts to increase harvests and feed a wealthier population with the means to buy more food…

A french fry factory in Harbin
“It seems like their intent is to re-engineer the food consumption patterns, to somehow induce people to eat potatoes instead of rice and wheat noodles,” said Fred Gale, a senior economist who tracks China for the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

The government of the water-starved country sees numerous virtues in a tuber that is drought-resistant and can be cultivated with less water and energy than other starches. The potato is also the only crop that can be grown nationwide and help raise incomes in rural areas…

But getting people to eat more spuds may require some potato propaganda. They don’t exist on the list of belly-filling staples, defined as rice, noodles, corn or bread-like products, that are usually eaten at the end of a meal to make sure no one goes away hungry…

The Chinese word for potato, tudou, has peasant connotations (a Chinese dish approximating mashed potatoes roughly translates to “potato mud”)…

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