So, you probably didn't know this, but 2008 has been declared the International Year of the Potato by the United Nations. Which really is fantastic news, when you think about it, because everybody is happier when they eat more potatoes and so should be encouraged to eat more potatoes. Who hasn't had a day made better by the consumption of a perfectly crispy french fry or a plate of buttery mash? International Year of the Potato is an important first step toward global happiness.
That said, I should note that the United Nations isn't promoting the potato because french fries make people happy. The United Nations, so far as I know, does not have a position on the french fry. What they do have a position on is the importance of drawing global attention to agriculture and the role that sustainable agriculture can play in establishing food security and alleviating poverty and all of the terrible things that attend poverty. And potatoes are sustainable agriculture, and so an important foodstuff.
Why am I prattling on about potatoes, and what does this have to with maternal health or women's health, apart from the central role that french fries and chips and big, cheesy trays of scalloped potatoes play in the diet of the average pregnant woman? Potatoes are not meat, and January is Meatless Meals Month for BlogHersAct Canada. Potatoes, as it turns out, can be an important part of health activism and environmental activism, inasmuch as they can form a staple of a vegetarian diet and play a central role in establishing sustainable and more eco-friendly agriculture (factory farmed meat, of course, being not so healthy, not so sustainable, and not so eco-friendly.)
Amy of Assertagirl - BlogHersAct Canada's lead blogger - notes in her post on this month's challenge that if you’re anything like her, "the concept of becoming a vegetarian seems like a very good idea...in theory. With benefits like helping to reduce cruelty to animals, improving your health and helping the environment, it seems like a no-brainer. However, it's a transition that is very difficult for meat-lovers to make.
" Hence this month's challenge: make at least one meal per week a meatless meal, in a effort to gradually reduce your family's meat consumption - thereby minimizing your household's eco-footprint and eating more healthily, all at once. Go meatless, and share your strategies and experience and - most importantly - recipes in the comments at BHA Canada or in posts on your own blog (for linkage at BHA Canada later in the month!)
Recipes for the perfect tray of scalloped potatoes, or roasted garlic mashed potatoes, or homemade french can be sent directly to me.
(To get you started, here's Amy's meatless meal of choice:
Moroccan Chick Pea Soup. "My husband and I eat this about once a month, it’s just that good. Don’t let the word “Moroccan” in the title scare you off...I have written about this recipe on my own blog before, and I offer up the recipe to any friend who will listen. The recipe calls for chicken stock, but to really go meatless, you could substitute it for vegetable stock. I first saw this dish cooked on FoodTV Canada, and found it later online. The printout is soggy and messy now, I’ve used it so many times. It’s high in protein, an excellent source of folate, lycopene (a heart disease and cancer fighter) and antioxidants and I promise, the smell of garlic, cinnamon, cumin and paprika simmering away on your stove is simply irresistible."
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