All Hail the Humble Potato

Illustration for article titled All Hail the Humble Potato
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Potatoes are, without question, the best and most under-appreciated component to any meal. They are stars and yet receive the treatment of a lowly side dish as though they were celery sticks or steamed broccoli. Potatoes spend so much of a normal year overshadowed, only to flourish in the summer when everyone and their aunt decides to make potato salad. But this, of course, is a different kind of year, one that could lead to a permanent rise in profile of the humble, glorious potato.

As restaurants worldwide remain closed or operating at a smaller scale, the food they would have ordered—for instance, tons of potatoes—is sitting untouched. According to CNN, the issue of unused food is so severe that a campaign led by “Belgopom,” the association for the Belgian potato trade and processing industry, is calling upon Belgians to eat french fries at least twice a week to prevent the loss of about 125 million euros worth of potatoes in the frozen potato industry. That converts to more than $135 million, which is about a kajillion medium fries from McDonald’s. (I am here for Belgium if it needs me.)

Potatoes are delicious and incredibly versatile. One can prepare a potato in a number of exciting ways and feel full for at least a few hours. They work in nearly any kind of diet. Vegans, omnivores, vegetarians, paleo, some keto people—the potato is there for them all. Potatoes are also life-saving. During war times, potatoes have been considered critical to keeping the population fed for a low cost. With food shortages and unsustainable rationing of meat and dairy products, potatoes shouldered the weight of feeding a nation. Yet during peace times, potatoes are shunned for their starchiness and high caloric value. This anti-potato propaganda is disgusting and misleading. Potatoes are not merely for wartime; they are for all times, like a reliable friend that never leaves your side.

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Potatoes have not only saved lives, but they’ve also influenced fashion. According to Smithsonian Magazine, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette would wear the flower of the potato plant as a decoration, which inspired other French nobles to do the same. What other nightshades could sprout such beautiful flowers that royalty would deem them worthy to be worn? The potato is superior, the potato is life, the potato is fashion.

If ever there was a time to remember all the good that potatoes have done, it is now. No country should have to worry about what’s going to happen to their various potato industries be they fresh or frozen. Send potatoes, instead of Edible Arrangements. Send potato flowers instead of roses. In the same way that potatoes have stepped up during war times, we as a human population must step up to the plate and eat every viable potato in sight.

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DISCUSSION

itsnotaboutthepasta
itsnotaboutthepasta

My grocery store has started stocking MONSTER russets - I got half a dozen this weekend and they’re all at least 5 inches long if not 6. A Baked potato with butter, cheese, chives, and sour cream is one of my favorite “too overwhelmed and/or lazy to cook” dinners, which makes it ideal for the 2018-19 I spent in a fairly serious depression AND for quarantine.

I once dated a(n Irish) man who loved potatoes so much that for one of his birthdays as a kid he asked for his birthday dinner to be “potatoes in as many ways as you can make them.” I found that incredibly endearing and relatable.