To be honest, potatoes are not my favorite vegetable, a fact that repeatedly shocks curious Idahoans considering I represent the state with the largest potato production in the United States. While, yes, I will gladly devour a steaming plate of sweet potato fries, the thought of biting in to the starchy interior of a plain, undressed potato makes my taste buds tremble back in to the far corners of my culinary tongue. However, on a recent trip to the Idaho Potato Commission, I realized that I do not need to enjoy potatoes in their organic state to appreciate them. In fact, after speaking with Frank Muir, the Idaho Potato Commission’s President and CEO, I have come to terms with potatoes being the underrated vegetable needing to be on everyone’s radar.
Not only are potatoes one of the most allergy friendly foods, they are also the world’s fourth food staple- facts that are often overlooked when browsing grocery stores or restaurant menus. Potatoes have also reached new heights and were the very first vegetable grown in space. While they get a bad rep for being fatty and unhealthy, an 8-ounce baked potato only contains about 100 calories. Simply put, there is more to a spud than meets the eye.
In fact, we should all aspire to be a little bit like the potato. While potatoes have an unassuming exterior, their insides contain a smooth center that can transform into fluffy mashed potatoes or crispy French fries. Potatoes are both an indulgent treat and a nutrient-packed source of potassium as well as other essential ingredients. The pickiest of eaters and ficklest of palates can all enjoy a potato in one of its thousand forms. Malleable. Reliable. Beneficial. An Idaho Potato.
Furthermore, it’s no wonder our state produces the most of a crop which resembles who we are as Idahoans. Mashed, fried, baked, or steamed, Idaho potatoes come in many forms, and Idahoans come from all walks of life. Yet, we all call Idaho our home. Community is built on
care, but its foundation thrives on acceptance. Of all the states and countries I have traveled, no community can compare to the unity, like-minded values, and heart present in every corner of our state. The same soil that grows our famous crop also fosters and cares for our people. The next time you think of a potato, don’t just think of dinner or argue whether a potato is a fruit or vegetable. Think of Idaho, think of Idahome. After all, it is who we are.