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  • Writer's pictureStephen Laphen

The Potato Problem

Maybe you saw the post online, maybe you found the blog and I piqued your interest. Well, my fellow starch supporters, I have some bad news for you. For every serving of mashed potatoes you eat, toss out a heaping spoonful.

According to a study by the Waste & Resources Action Program, 20.2% of potatoes were avoidably discarded and 26% of potatoes were possibly avoidably discarded. "What do they mean by avoidable?" I see you asking, well let me hash it out for you. Any part of the potato that is edible, so basically everything but the skin and eyes, is considered fair game for avoidable waste. If its what is eaten, the waste is considered avoidable. Possibly avoidable pertains to the edible by some category. In our case, potato skins, a fried delicacy to some, a dirt-covered brown mess to others.

"So some potatoes don't get eaten, what's the big deal? They're only like 20 cents a pop" I see you saying. Well, Spuds Makenzie, those numbers add up. Sure, it's only 78 cents a pound for potatoes in the US, but we eat a massive amount of taters. On average Americans eat about 114 pounds of the bad boys each year. Thankfully, most of the potatoes we eat are processed or frozen, only around 42 pounds of them are fresh. So at $0.78 a pound, a family of four is looking at around $30 down the drain every year.

Ecologically it's not too much better, potatoes average out to around 2.2 grams of CO² for every gram of potato grown (This study is somewhat archaic so these numbers may fluctuate). That works out to 193.6 pounds of CO² equivalent per year for that same family of 4. 200 pounds that are wasted for no reason, that's enough to fill up 12,000 gallon jugs!

Once again, we're only talking about potatoes. One of the most shelf-stable and rot-resistant pieces of produce in the kitchen. These guys, the immortal spuds, they account for $30 in a family that's gone. So when you start factoring in the vegetables that won't last til next summer, you can start to see that the numbers add up quickly. We're talking hundreds of dollars for a family. It's an issue we seldom consider, but it's no small fries.

For the record, this isn't a put down on Americans and definitely not on you personally. We all have busy schedules, we all overestimate how long produce is good. A few bucks here, a few bucks there, unless you're religiously checking your budgeting apps, it slips through the cracks. That's no mortal sin, its human nature. That's also why we're here, we want to help give your produce a fighting chance, a few more days to be enjoyed fresh and not thrown in the garbage. Its a small step, but every bit helps.

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