It appears that I come by my love of potatoes quite naturally – after all, one side of my family has a heavy dose of Irish, and the great state of Maine is the fifth-largest potato producing state in the US. Yum! It seems only fitting to feature the Maine potato in this HoME Grown post.
I enjoy potatoes in almost any form. My husband calls this a “problem” when I devour an entire bag of salt and vinegar chips in one sitting, or eat my whole baked potato before touching my steak, or… well, you get the idea. Unfortunately, potatoes have been villainized in recent years for being perceived as ‘unhealthy’ as a result of many popular low carb diets. The potato can be an incredibly healthy side and important source of nutrients – the key is how you prepare it.
When baked or boiled, the average size potato only has 110 calories. Compare that against some of the 100-Calorie snacks that are so popular – what is really better for you? A vegetable, or a preserved, packaged snack? Potatoes are not only naturally fat free, they have more potassium than a banana, more fiber than an apple, and more Vitamin C than an orange. I’ll be honest – I was as surprised by these facts as you probably are. Of course, just like everyone else, I like to add butter, sour cream, bacon, salt, and other yummy toppings to my potatoes. These items do make the potato less healthy, but I am a big believer in moderation in all things – so I use these toppings sparingly and avoid the ‘loaded’ baked potato.
Potatoes grown in Maine that bear the Maine Quality Trademark provide a guarantee that these potatoes are of the highest quality. In fact, before the potatoes can bear that trademark, they are inspected and pass requirements stricter than the United States Department of Agriculture’s U.S. No. 1 grade. That’s a great assurance! To find them, just look for the red, white and blue State of Maine trademark the next time you’re shopping for potatoes. (from the Maine Potato Board)
A few fun facts about potatoes:
- Clinical studies have concluded that, in fact, due to the vitamins and fiber in a potato, humans could actually survive on them alone with just the addition of a tablespoon of butter or milk (if my husband is reading this, he’s probably horrified and envisioning a long life of nothing but potatoes and butter).
- “French Fries” were introduced to America when Thomas Jefferson had “potatoes served in a French manner” at a White House dinner.
- The first people to cultivate potatoes were the Indians in Peru over 4,000 years ago.
The Maine Potato Board is a great resource for information on Maine grown potatoes. Their two websites, www.saypotato.com and www.mainepotatoes.com, were both great sources of information for me as I wrote this post.
A few upcoming posts that will relate to the Maine potato – a weekly recipe for Northshore Potatoes (decidedly unhealthy, but delicious) and a post on Cold River Vodka (made in Maine, from Maine potatoes).