When potato farmers won’t eat the very potatoes they are farming and instead have a small backyard garden to grow a separate stash for their own personal consumption, something is clearly not right. This came to light when I read Michael Pollan’s section on potatoes in The Botany of Desire. The description of the farmer’s potato plants as “doused with so much pesticide that their leaves wear a dull white chemical bloom and the soil they’re rooted in is a lifeless gray powder,” is what really got me.
Like anyone with a concern for personal health and that of our environment, I strive to buy organic. However, this can add up to an eye-popping, hefty bill at the grocery store register. The question is, what food is most important to buy organic?
It seems the American’s love of the French fry, the perfect French fry, no less, created what’s become a disastrous need for the perfect potato. The resulting bumper-to-bumper monoculture crops of russet potatoes have in turn resulted in the intense overuse of pesticides.
What does this mean for the consumer? Most likely, any non-organic potato you buy has been repeatedly sprayed with harmful, poisonous chemicals. Still in the mood for those mashed potatoes? Reach for the stack of organic!