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The average American eats 111 pounds of potatoes a year. This includes 48 pounds of frozen, 34 pounds of fresh, 17 pounds of chips, and 12 pounds of dehydrated potato products.
Potatoes are one of the world's largest food crops—after rice, wheat, and corn—as well as the most widely grown tuber crop. Native to South America, potatoes have been cultivated for at least 1,800 years and belong to the Solanaceae family.
The potato is a versatile, carbohydrate-rich food highly popular worldwide. In addition to being fat-free and gluten-free, potatoes are also a great source of several nutrients, including vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. In fact, a single medium sized potato provides nearly half the daily adult requirement (100 mg) of vitamin C!
Over 100 potato varieties are grown in Colorado with most production located in the San Luis Valley. At 7,600 feet, potatoes grown in the San Luis Valley are among the highest grown in the world! In Colorado, potato harvest begins in September with about 98% of the crop going into storage before being shipped.
The potato is often accused of being fattening, but by itself is not high in calories. However, frying potatoes in oil or piling them high with butter and sour cream can more than double the calories in a potato product!
Another common misconception is that all of the potato's nutrients are located in its skin, but actually the majority (>50 %) of the dietary fiber is found within the potato itself.
As with many other vegetables, the method of cooking can affect the bioavailability of certain nutrients. Nutrient losses are greatest when boiling because water-soluble vitamins and minerals leach into the cooking water.
In general, potatoes are a safe food to eat, but mishandling prepared potato dishes like potato salad, may result in bacterial growth— including Salmonella or Shigella which can cause illness.
Because potato salad provides a perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria:
• Wash potatoes thoroughly before cooking. Use clean knives and cutting boards to avoid cross contamination from other ingredients.
• When making potato salad, it is best to cool the cooked potatoes to 41°F BEFORE you mix in other ingredients. Once all ingredients are mixed, place the salad back into the refrigerator immediately, until ready to serve.
• Refrigerate any leftover potato salad soon after serving. Do not allow it to stand at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Other Cooked Potatoes
Pound for pound, potatoes are one of the best values in the produce section at just 25 cents per medium (5.3 oz.) potato!
Funded in part by the CO Dept. of Agriculture/USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (Updated 2015)