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Off in the distance
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May 2016

The Bellinghman
Date: 2008-06-16 14:46
Subject: Hunan prawns with mash, please
Security: Public
I am amused (though not totally surprised, considering their population) to note which country is now apparently the world's largest producer of potatoes.


It may be a while before it overtakes rice (if it ever does), but the potato appears to be ever more popular as a crop, since it gives relatively high returns for relatively low input.

It also has some advantages: the current rocketing price for rice and wheat is thought to be more due to commodity speculation than to any underlying real shortage. But to be able to fill a warehouse with something that you want to hoard for a year or two, you need to know that whatever it is will keep. Rice keeps. Wheat keeps. Potatoes don't. So though potato surpluses can be traded, they can't be hoarded.

This can also be a disadvantage: the Biblical story of the seven fat years followed by the seven lean years couldn't have had the same result if the granaries had been filled with potatoes. So for safety, you would need a mixed agronomy: potatoes for the bulk, but some rice and/or wheat to store for the lean years. (And not to be grown as a cash crop that carries on being exported willy nilly: the island of Ireland is still rightly aggrieved about that policy.)

I've never yet encountered the potato in a Chinese dish (unlike Indian, where Sag Aloo and Vindaloo are strongly potato-based.), but I await recipes with interest.
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Dr Plokta
User: drplokta
Date: 2008-06-16 14:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You don't need a crop to keep in order to speculate on it; you can speculate on potato futures for delivery in two years' time just as well as on actual physical potatoes. The potato's real advantage is that because it's full of water, it's expensive to ship, so there's not much of a global commodities market for potatoes, and hence it's difficult to speculate in futures.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2008-06-16 14:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Certainly futures do exist (in almost anything, it seems), and futures can be speculated in. But a given year's production of potatoes can't be stored for sale in future years, and that restricts the temporal aspect.

(Well, excluding dried and/or frozen potatoes, but (a) that's much more expensive than keeping a granary dry and rat free and (b) the resulting product is not usually a satisfactory substitute.)
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User: k425
Date: 2008-06-16 15:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Three times I've read this post and I've only just realised it says "Hunan"...
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User: mizkit
Date: 2008-06-16 15:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh. I thought it said "human", too. :)
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2008-06-16 15:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Euw!!! GM gone mad.

(It just happens that at the meal we had on Saturday evening, I had Hunan prawns. On rice. That's the only reason I chose the dish in the title.)
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