at-risk ingredient: “bintje”

For les belges, the “bintje” is not just the runt of the potato litter.  With it’s uncompromising crunchiness, this traditional tuber is an undisputed symbol of Belgian national heritage (in a country plagued by an ongoing identity crisis).

The Wall Street Journal recently chronicled the unsteady future of this edible edifice of cultural unity, and a number of different foodie publicationshave started to spread the word about the “bintje” cause.

So why am I joining the pro-bintje masses?  Because (1) bintje is just really fun to [attempt to] pronounce, (2) I have a personal connection with the french-speaking Belgians of Wallonie and (3) the bio-diversity of ingredients  available to us directly affects our health, longevity and creativity.  That means that our access to different varieties of an ingredient – such as the potato – provides us with a dramatic increase in nutritional benefits (not to mention varied flavors, textures and other advantages).

I do not want to live in a world where we are restricted to 4 or 5 of the most common potato varieties.  The future of all heirloom potatoes – and heirloom products in general – hangs in the balance of our support of causes like that of the bintje.

…not to mention the future of our ever-curious taste buds.

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