We've all got to do our part in the fight against COVID-19. Well, the good news is, doing your part now includes upping your poutine intake.
Some 200 million pounds of potatoes meant to be french fries are currently stuck in storage in Canada, due to less demand from restaurants, many of which are shuttered. With about three quarters of the country's potatoes normally being consumed at eateries, Canadian farmers have been feeling the crunch—and are asking their fellow compatriots to help out by mowing down more frites.
"The french fries manufacturers will continue to process french fries as long as they can, the issue becomes storage or freezer storage to put those finished fries inside of, those are fairly full right now," Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, told CityNews.
He's hoping people increase their fry consumption, the outlet reports. "Certainly, anything we can do to encourage people to use more and use more local food within the country is great news."
MacIsaac notes that while sales of chips and potatoes at grocery stores are actually up, a massive surplus of french fry potatoes—a longer type of spud bred for the sole purpose of becoming fries—risks being thrown out this fall when the new harvest occurs.
Meanwhile, farmers in Alberta say they are struggling with a drastic drop in cheese sales.
Cherylynn Bos, co-owner of Rock Ridge Dairy in Ponoka, told Edmonton Journal she is facing up to a 75 percent reduction in demand for her products since her market closed. “We do, like, a feta cheese and a chevre and about 25 percent of that has gone to retail,” she said. “So that’s where the problem lies right now.”
Bos told the paper she's concerned that in a matter of weeks she may have to cull some of her dairy goat herd. “We can (shift production) for maybe about six weeks and then we’ll have a lot of product in this other area and you can’t do that forever, of course," she said.
So, a surplus of fries and cheese. Sounds like a national crisis Canadians were born to crush.
In Belgium, said to be the birthplace of the fry, nearly 750,000 tons of potatoes are at risk of being tossed. So the country's farmers have implored the public to do their bit and eat fries twice a week.
MacIsaac told the National Post that given the volume of Canadian potatoes (the average farm can store about eight million pounds), making a dent in the surplus would likely require even more than a twice-weekly commitment from the nation's spud enthusiasts.
That sounds like a challenge.