I read that South America used to produce hundreds and thousands of varieties of potatoes. Different sizes, colors (even purple!) and each had its own use. Apparently each was so distinct in flavor that you didn’t just toss the cheapest 10 lb bag in your cart when you knew you’d be making french fries, potato salad and veggie soup that week. Each potato had purpose.
The author of the book expressed sadness for the extinct potato flavors, and actually an entire movement (Slow Food) shares concern for indigenous foods of a region that have been lost to mass production of staple crops (ie, the evil corn and soy). It seems like a bit of an extravagant cause when we consider the people who die each year for lack of clean water… I mean, do we need more than 5 potato flavors? But I suppose for those who truly appreciate food in all its forms, rather than just covered with butter or sour cream, it could be a party stopper to have flavorless spuds.
However, a few nights after reading this, I was still hung up on the issue. I even asked husband, “why is it a good thing to have diversity and variety?” I’m not just talking about in the workforce and equality issues, but rather the overarching idea – to what benefit does the world from diversity?
Tonight at youth group we touched on it a bit, the topic of doing what we should vs. what people want us to. I got caught up in the subtopic of it all (well, for my group, that is. Other groups may not have ventured into this water): do people respect someone who stands up for what they believe is right? Why is it that we don’t want to be noticed as different?
My senior year in college I took 7 of my closest friends (in a van, 18 hours, to Miami, to leave) on a cruise. By “took” I mean that I drove 87.6% of the way. I could offer up no less than 8 hilarious stories from the week, but instead I share a memory stuck in my head and could never figure out why. In our group there were 2 redheads, 2 black girls and one that looked european, like a Mediterranean sweetheart (fitting, since she married one and lives there now). I only mention our different looks because one afternoon several of us strategized how to bake in the sun as much as humanly possible. As we mentioned this to the group, the 2 black girls mentioned that they did not want to sun the afternoon away. (JP actually made a statement about it that was hilariously funny but that when read out of context, could be taken in a wrong way… so, I’m employing some of those so-called “editing skills.”)
I was struck by how the white girls wanted to get darker and the dark girls wanted to get whiter. Pretty much, we all wanted to look like Cara. (Ha, I kid. Though she is gorgeous). But seriously. Does a magic ideal of middle ground exist just beyond our conscience? Do we conform to something that we can’t even name, only for the sake of not being different?
Why do we mourn the lost differences in potato flavors but aim our life toward a basic brown Idaho?
Something much deeper lies below our potato desires. No singular perfect potato exists and by pretending that one will fulfill all our needs just invalidates our hunger. Even more, it’s like telling God that his time and effort into creating more beauty in the world was a waste.
The question runs deeper and this post does not provide a satisfactory answer. I know, you ask, why did I read this far and you STILL not provide a hypothesis? But I turn it back to you: Why is diversity good? What does the world benefit from differences – between potatoes and people?
Talk amongst yourself.