Tuesday 22 January 2008

This is why we need the UN.

Thanks as ever to Rob for drawing my attention to the funniest unintentionally funny thing I've seen in quite some time. Yes, 2008 is the United Nations International Year of the Potato.

The site's fantastic: there's a potato calendar and a potato quiz (you know, for kids!) and loads of fascinating facts and a video of a potato harvest in action and... well, let's be fair, it actually is a pretty good site. I'm far too much of a fan of pointless trivia to plausibly claim that sites like this are crap. It's better than the (sadly no longer with us) Pylon of the Month site, and I loved that.

But what gets me is the efficiency. You might think there'd be a trade association of potato farmers and greengrocers and such, and they could have a marketing budget, and they could hire someone to bung a site like this together. In fact, it's clear from the UN's potato calendar that such organisations do exist and do do things. But someone decided that it would be quicker and easier to lobby the politicians of God knows how many different countries to in turn lobby the UN to give an entire UN-sponsored year over to the potato. How many other things were in the running to have 2008 as their special year? Centipedes? Socks? Mint Imperials? And how many meetings did lots of highly-paid UN delegates go to to discuss the candidates until the potato finally won? Just what absurdly colossal sum of money was spent on promoting this tuber?

And for what? Are we really facing an international lack-of-potato-awareness crisis?

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