Purple “Space Potatoes”

Having boldly gone where no spud has before, Chinese space potatoes are now the latest culinary fad to hit the country’s ultra-trendy commercial hub of Shanghai.

Slightly sweet and purple in color, the potatoes, named Purple Orchid Three, are bred from seeds that mutated while being carried aboard a Chinese spacecraft.

Grower Haikou Purple Orchid Co. Ltd. is promoting them as a unique food option, and restaurants in the city are offering them for Valentine’s Day dinners, served crispy fried, or in salads, desserts and even iced drinks, the newspaper said.

China’s space program claims to have produced numerous mutated fruits and vegetables by exposing seeds to space radiation, capsule pressure and weightlessness.

Chinese agricultural experts say plants grown from such seeds can be hardier, more nutritious and produce higher yields, although many scientists say similar effects could be achieved in ordinary laboratories.

The space program, which has successfully completed two manned missions, is a source of massive national pride for China, and companies marketing everything from milk to magazines have bought the rights to be endorsed by it.

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