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Can you dig it? It’s National Potato Month!

September 28, 2010

There’s still time to celebrate National Potato Month. How have you celebrated the spud? According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, potatoes are by far the most popular vegetable in American. Many of those most-enjoyed veggies, though are processed into French fries. We consume, on average 16 pounds of French fries a year – French fried potatoes are not quite as healthy as those prepared in other ways, though you can bake yourself up a batch of homemade French fries that are both yummy and better for your health!

(photo courtesy flickr.com)

It’s estimated that the average American consumes more than 140 pounds of potato a year! By comparison, we eat about 50 pounds of tomatoes – the second-most consumed veggie. But wait, tomatoes are technically a fruit, but for argument’s sake, they’re still considered the second most consumed vegetable by the USDA.

How well do you know your potato? 10 potato fun facts:

  • The debate still rages as to who actually invented the French fry – Belgium or France. The Belgians claim street vendors sold “Belgian fries” before the French ever offered them.
  • One if every 14 potatoes grown in the US ends up in a McDonald’s fryer! They also turn out more than 1/3 of all the fries sold in US restaurants.
  • The potato is 80% water, 20% solid.
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest potato ever grown was 18 pounds, four ounces and was grown in 1795 in England.
  • Henry Spalding planted the first Idaho potato in 1837.
  • Potatoes are the second most consumed food in America; milk products are first in line.
  • Even though potatoes have a bad reputation in some foodie circles (possibly because of the deep frying!) they are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. A medium-size potato has less calories than a grapefruit, more usable iron than any other veggie and more potassium than a banana. They are high in fiber, fat free and extremely versatile when it comes to fitting them into a daily meal.
  • Saratoga Springs, New York was the birthplace of the potato chip in 1853 when they were originally known as Saratoga Crunch Chips.
  • Why call them spuds? There are a couple of theories – once is because of the “Spudder” – the shovel-like tool that digs up potatoes or because of the wooden barrel they are sorted into after picking.
  • Want to make your baked potato the centerpiece of the meal? Pierce it with a fork, one time lengthwise and one time cross wise then press the potato at both ends to make it “blossom.” Using a knife to open a baked potato flattens it and alters its texture.   

When you’re putting together your next meal idea, consider incorporating the potato in a new, exciting dish. Check out some of our recipes. If you can’t get enough of your French fries, though, try this healthier, baked version.

Take six large russet or other baking potatoes, scrubbed and vegetable spray

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Cut the potatoes into 1/2 inch strips or leave thicker if you prefer more of a potato wedge. Lightly spray baking pan with vegetable spray. Lay potatoes in a single layer on baking sheet. Spray strips lightly with vegetable spray before placing pan in oven.

Bake 15-20 minutes, turn, continue baking until crisp and brown, approximately 15-20 minutes more. Enjoy!

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