Spuds in space are food superstars of latest Eden plants podcast
The amazing story of how King Edward potatoes are turned into pure UK-grown vodka features in a new Eden Project podcast released today.
Eden Co-founder Sir Tim Smit narrates the latest in Eden’s audio series Plants for a New Planet, featuring the not-so-humble spud as a perfect plant to take to an imaginary new world.
The podcast features brothers Chris and Steve Dustow of Colwith Farm near Lostwithiel in Cornwall, where five generations of the family have worked the land.
There, Steve has opened a distillery to develop a potato vodka named Aval Dor - which means “potato” in Cornish - made from creamy King Edwards grown on the 200-acre farm.
He describes how a vegetable most commonly served on a plate is turned into vodka and gin, using mineral water drawn from beneath the farm.
The place of the potato in history and its vital importance in terms of foods for the future is sketched in by Ireland-based food writer and potato expert Aoife Cox, creator of the award-winning blog The Daily Spud.
Aoife says: “Potatoes are seen as very important for food security. You can feed more people on an acre of potatoes than you can an acre of wheat or an acre of rice.”
She reveals how people in 19th century Ireland even cultivated an extra-long thumbnail to enable them to peel potatoes.
Also featured in the broadcast is one of Eden’s own experts, horticulturist James Clark, who tends the Global Garden allotment in the heart of the former china clay pit where he grows exotic varieties of potatoes.
James traces the origins of early potato cultivation in Peru 7,000 years ago, the introduction of the vegetable in Europe in the 1700s - when the potato became massively popular - and its place today as the fourth biggest food crop in the world.
James says: “A potato is one of the wonders of nature. It’s packed with carbohydrates – the perfect little plant in a tuber.”
He describes how the vegetable has a dangerous side. It is a member of the same plant family as tomatoes and the fruits of the potato plant look similar to tomato fruits but, unlike their nutritious relative, are potentially lethal if eaten.
The podcast, the second in Eden’s Plants for a New Planet series, can be heard at www.edenproject.com/podcast.