Belgian farmers are currently facing a 750,000-ton surplus of potatoes, and the government has come up with a creative solution to ensure the vegetables don’t go to waste: Encourage everyone to eat more frites.
Lockdown measures in the country have crippled restaurants, and in turn farmers are feeling the heat, too, with nowhere to sell their produce. However, frites, a twice-fried snack sometimes paired with mussels or topped with mayonnaise, is considered a national dish of Belgium, and many snack bars where they’re sold have been given special permission to stay open.
The Department of Agriculture hopes that Belgians venture out of the house to eat frites (at a safe distance from their countrymen) twice a week instead of just once in order to aid efforts to deplete overflowing potato stocks.
Although frites stands have been offering takeout orders, sales have been low as most people would still rather stay home than risk getting sick. Perhaps that’s for the best, but the resulting food waste has been hard to swallow.
Thankfully, Belgium isn’t relying on hunger snackers sneaking out of self-isolation for frites to ease potato surplus. Belgapom, the country’s potato trade association, will donate 25 tons of potatoes to food banks every week, according to 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,” Flemish agriculture minister Hilde Crevits told the newspaper.
The rest of the world might take note of the Belgian strategy for combating food waste: Families in need will be supplied with fresh produce in a time when even going to the grocery store is a risk, and snacking is not only commended, it’s highly encouraged.