The Fifth Most Expensive Food in the World: A Potato

Photograph from freshplaza.com.

Coming in behind saffron, macadamia nuts, beluga caviar, and white truffles, the fifth most expensive food in the world isn't some exotic fish or endangered tropical fruit: it's a rare variety of potato. Grown in France on the Isle of Noirmoutier, the La Bonnotte potato sometimes achieves a market price of an astounding €500/kilo (US $300/lb).

The potato (which nearly went extinct between WWI and WWII, but was rescued thanks to some truly dedicated tuberphiles) is prized for its complex flavor — it's subtly briny, thanks in part to algae and seaweed added to the soil, and seawater in the air — but its price is driven so high thanks largely to its infinitesimally short growing season, which lasts all the way from May 1 to May 10. Too fragile to be cultivated by machine, the potatoes have to be pulled out of the ground by hand, with just about 20,000 kilograms harvested each year.

Once the residents of Noirmoutier are done with their annual hand-harvest of the tuber, they throw it its own festival — the potato is so beloved by its fans that it even has its own website. Color us skeptical that a humble potato could be worth the equivalent of our monthly rent, but we'll believe it when we taste it.

Paula

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