A Potato of Every Color

Weekend Adventures in Maine:  A Potato of Every Color

 Blossoming Maine potato crop in Fort Fairfield, Maine.

Blossoming Maine potato crop in Fort Fairfield, Maine.

This weekend, I ventured north to Fort Fairfield in the Aroostook County to celebrate Maine’s potatoes and its farmers, where I learned all about potatoes! 



What’s there to celebrate?

 Mashed potato wrestling is a serious Maine sport!

Mashed potato wrestling is a serious Maine sport!

The potato is a meaningful crop for Maine’s economy, and its value is celebrated annually at the Maine Potato Blossom Festival.  The potato has been northern Maine’s primary agricultural product for years because of fertile soil and large farms.  In the 1940s, Maine’s production was one of the highest in the U.S.  Since then, rotational crops, conservation and fewer farmers have caused production to decline.

The festival timing is no coincidence, it coincides with the arrival of the blossoms on the season’s potato crop.  The celebration has been in existence since 1937, and features exciting events for everyone including farmer olympics, road races, arts & crafts, mashed potato wrestling, fireworks, music, and the Maine Potato Blossom Queen Pageant.

Where do our potatoes go?

Potatoes are now used less for table stock and more for specialty markets.  For instance, part of Maine's production is used for seeds to supply the east coast.  Other potatoes are used for french fries and potato chips, and about ten percent goes to the fresh market for home, restaurant, and institutional raw potato use.  

A potato of every color:  White, red, yellow, and….purple?

I bet you’ve seen white, yellow and even red potatoes.  But purple and blue potatoes?  Yes, they do exist.  And the color can signify a lot about the nutritional content!  

 Purple potato stir-fry.

Purple potato stir-fry.

Did you ever hear anyone say, “Eat more color in your diet!”?  Well, it’s true.  Colorful fruits and vegetables pack higher nutritional content.  For instance, the color of purple potatoes is attributed to the powerful antioxidant, anthocyanin.  This compound is found in other characteristically blue and purple foods like blueberries and blackberries.  This compound is most well-known for its immunity-boosting and cancer-fighting properties, but it also has anti-aging properties and improves memory function and urinary tract health.

What’s more?  Purple potatoes are packed with Vitamin C and potassium, and contain other important vitamins and minerals like riboflavin and iron.  Their nutty and earthy flavors complement salads perfectly, and the firm flesh holds its shape well while cooking.  So boost your diet with these rich purple and power-packed potatoes!  Head to potatogoodness.com for some deliciously nutritious potato recipes, and more potato facts!  *Cooking tip*  Keep the skin on the potato.  The skin is packed with fiber and contains vitamin C and potassium.

Enjoy some delicious Maine potatoes!

Your Young & Free Spokester,