History is littered with inspirational examples of self-sacrifice. From Spock in Star Trek 2 to the drunk dude in Independence Day, such selflessness reminds everyone that if there are people out there prepared to put everything on the line, then we too can do our bit - however small it might seem. In the case of the good people of Belgium, their most recent sacrifice may end up being rather more enjoyable than you’d typically expect from something altruistic.
As the country attempts to adapt to the dramatic changes brought about by the coronavirus, the Belgian market has been flooded with excess potatoes. Farmers, who would ordinarily sell their stock with ease, have found themselves staring down the barrel of a 750,000-ton spud surplus. Faced with this mountain of Maris Pipers, the government has decided to take radical action, requesting that the population eat fries at least twice a week for the foreseeable future.
Fries and Belgium are intrinsically linked. Often considered the country’s national dish, frites are believed to have been invented in the Meuse Valley region late in the 16th century, and are as indispensable to the nation’s identity as strong beer or chocolate. Given this, you could be forgiven for thinking that 750,000 tonnes of potatoes would be warmly received.
Excess potatoes? Try out our epic Trash Can Fries recipe:
However, according to leading local organisation Belgapom, the situation is actually incredibly serious. Unless drastic action is taken, farmers could be forced to see their crops go to waste, as lockdown curtails demand for fresh produce from both the restaurant and festival sectors.
In order to help the industry remain viable, the Belgapom revealed that the organisation will be providing at least 25 tonnes of potatoes to food banks every week until at least the end of May, in order to both work through the surplus and help feed the population.
This move has been supported by the Belgian agriculture minister, Hilde Crevits, who explained in an interview with The Brussels Times:
“In this way, part of the potato stock will still be used and we can avoid seeing excellent food, for which our farmers have worked so hard, being lost. Families in poverty will be supplied with fresh, local potatoes every week. A positive action in difficult times.”
Even though a diet of fries might ordinarily seem like an inadvisable overindulgence, this story is proof positive that even things that are delicious can have an impact far beyond your appetite.