All Your Potatoes Questions Answered
When you think of potatoes, you usually think of the other guy (cough cough Idaho). Well, we are here to tell you that we think the best potatoes actually come from farms right here in Washington! Why? For starters, our soil is superior, and our climate is more conducive for potato growing.
Recently, we had the opportunity to travel to Quincy, Washington to learn more about potato farming from the experts themselves. We’re going to break down the who, what, when, where and why Washington potatoes are so great as we share everything we learned!
Chris Voigt is a man working to change the bad reputation that potatoes get. With the increased popularity of some recent low/no carb diets, Voigt committed to eat nothing but potatoes for 60 consecutive days. Yes, JUST POTATOES. Chris’s doctor said he also needed a little fat in his diet in addition to the potatoes, so he added bit of oil but that was IT. The goal of this potato diet? To demonstrate and educate people about the nutritional value of potatoes. After 60 days of a potato diet, Chris had the data he needed to prove that you can truly live off potatoes, and that they are actually quite healthy for you. Chris lost weight, his blood sugar went down, and his blood pressure was reduced; proving that potatoes aren’t unhealthy after all. Dab on them taters.
Not only did Chris’s 60-day potato meal plan prove that potatoes are in fact an incredible source of nutrition (not to mention they’re very budget friendly), but he also helped to educate the public and consumers and broke the negative stigma no carb diets erroneously placed on potatoes.
Now, we can’t talk about potatoes without talking about the farmers that grow them for us. Aka our heroes. Did you know that the average consumer eats around 100 pounds of potatoes every year? That’s just in one year, so clearly the demand is high. Growers are pressured to provide and meet the demands of restaurants and stores all year round.
Our Washington potato farmers work closely with customers such as McDonalds to ensure sustainability and better practices when it comes to harvesting and irrigation, which leads McDonalds to have the highest quality of potatoes.
Another reason to buy Washington potatoes is to support our LOCAL farmers. 99% of Washington potato farms are family owned. Not only is this their livelihood, but it’s a family affair. When asked about his hard work day in and day out, one potato grower responded, “I have never worked a day in my life. I love what I do”. If that doesn’t show you how much love and care these families put into their work and our food, then I don’t know what will.
Did you know that there are over 100 varieties of potatoes sold in the United States? Each of these potatoes fit into a category of either yellow, red, russet, purple, white, petite, or fingerling. Not only is there a large variety when it comes to the type of potato, but don’t even get us started on the different variations and ways to cook potatoes. From mashed to baked to fries, tots, chips, diced, roasted, scalloped, grilled; the list is endless! Not to mention the delicious gnocchi that we got to learn to make and taste.
Not only are potatoes delicious but they’re also nutritious!
Potatoes pack the nutrition punch with:
● Fiber: the skin of a medium potato supplies about 8% of your daily need!
● Vitamin C: a medium potato has about 27 mg- equal to the amount a
medium tangerine provides!
● Protein: eating a potato provides the same amount of protein as drinking
1⁄3 cup of milk!
● Potassium: A medium potato provides more potassium than a banana!
Each medium potato has 620 milligrams of this vital nutrient!
As a Spokane Eats team, we’ve decided that if we were told we could only have one food for the rest of our lives, we’d choose potatoes! I mean, you could literally eat them every day and never get bored because you have so many options.
We got the inside scoop on the very best time to purchase Washington potatoes in supermarkets. It varies a little each year as it really depends on the weather and harvesting season. We learned that you can expect to find Washington potatoes at their peak ripeness in stores in late July.
With that said, know that Washington potato farmers work diligently to keep their product fresh, even in the off-season. We all know that we don’t only eat potatoes in July. I mean, what’s Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes, right? To keep their potatoes fresh year-round, growers store the potatoes in refrigerated, dark and high humidity storage conditions that ensure they maintain maximum freshness all year long. So, lucky for us, even when Winter rolls around we can still enjoy delicious, fresh baked potatoes.
Although many of you think of Idaho as the potato state, BREAKING NEWS… it’s actually Washington! Washington has 44% more potatoes per acre than any other state. Washington is home to the world’s most productive potato fields, providing consumers around the world with these fresh, nutritious vegetables. Who knew?!
Now, for the most important question…Why Washington potatoes? Well, there are many reasons, one being sustainability. Washington potato growers implement better practices to ensure their potato farming practices remain sustainable. They care about the land. With the help of improved agriculture technology, such as the center pivot irrigation system, growers are able to conserve and save water. These technologies give the ground exactly what it needs in terms of water. Potatoes overall are a much more efficient and sustainable crop when compared to others, such as almonds and rice, because they use less water. Our farmers also rotate their crop from one field to the next, letting their fields rest for three or four years before using them again for the next potato crop. This allows the nutrients in the soil to grow while giving the land the time it needs to recover for the next round of crop.
We ended our tour with fresh cut Washington french fries fried up to perfection from the Washington State Potatoes Commission food truck and honestly, those alone were worth the trip to Quincy. Keep an eye out for their truck if you want to score some for yourself! To sum it all up… Washington provides more potatoes per acre, longer growing days, and better soil, making it the perfect place to grow potatoes!