15th September 2005
New Zealand Potato Inspired by Mountain Running Moon.
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Melissa Moon, double World Mountain Running champion, has served as inspiration in the development of the Moonlight potato, New Zealand’s latest dual-purpose main crop potato, positioned to be a huge market success.
The name Moonlight was chosen to honour Melissa Moon, who represents Vegfed (the New Zealand Vegetable and Potato Grower’s Federation) as ‘spokesperson’ for New Zealand’s fantastic potato, promoting its position as an enviably nutritious and high-energy food source. Melissa is a total potato fan and uses potatoes as an integral part of her training regime. She eat copious amounts of potatoes and it is her preferred carbohydrate food - Melissa will often eat a cold baked potato prior to training or racing, following up with one directly after to replenish energy stores.
First selected as a field-grown seedling at Pukekohe, Auckland in 1988, ‘Moonlight’ is the result of a Crop and Food Research breeding programme aimed specifically at achieving resistance to a wide range of major pests and diseases.
“Its vigorous growth means it makes more efficient use of fertiliser, particularly nitrogen, making Moonlight a very grower-friendly potato. We are delighted that Melissa has done so well and performed so consistently, and are pleased that we have been able to honour her with a potato variety that is doing the same!” says John Anderson, Potato Breeder for the NZ institute of Crop and Food Research.
Moonlight has quickly gained a reputation for versatility and is being harvested in different areas of New Zealand almost all year round.
“As a fresh market potato it has excellent flavour and can be used successfully for all methods of preparation; boiled, mashed, baked, microwaved, roasted, fried or in salads. Moonlight is a total winner. Just like Melissa Moon, it performs amazingly under pressure!” says Ian Corbett, Moonlight potato grower.
And the new Moonlight potato is supporting Melissa in defending her title at the upcoming World Mountain Running Championships being held on Mt Victoria in Wellington, Sunday the 25th September. The potato will be core to her diet and packs are going to be given out to spectators at the event.
“The carb factor is essential for my mountain running as I need to be mentally and physically energised to deal with the competition. For a person who is exercising, about 60% of their daily energy (calories) should be from carbohydrates. I swear by potatoes. They’ve supported me nutritionally all around the world, providing unfailing energy, and a nutritious natural carbohydrate source that is safe for my body,” says Moon.
According to John Anderson, the way you cook potatoes physically impacts their nutritional constituents, which in turn shapes the energy and nutritional content supplied to the body. Melissa Moon has discovered these benefits and puts them to good use in her sport.
“Cooled cooked potatoes are best pre-race – as cooling cooked potatoes lowers GI significantly, and low GI is best for competition as it provides sustained energy release. However, hot mashed potato having a higher GI, is rapidly and easily digested to absorbable glucose, making it ideal for recovery. So potatoes make the perfect food for athletes!” says Anderson.