I’m reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan. This was the disturbing information I read about potatoes. Not sure I’ll ever look at a french fry the same again.
My report took me to the Magic Valley in Idaho, where most of the french fries you’ve ever eaten begin their life as Russet Burbank potatoes. There I visited a farm like no farm I’d ever seen or imagined.
It was fifteen thousand acres, divided into 135-acre crop circles. Each circle resembled the green face of a tremendous clock with a slowly rotating second hand. That sweeping second hand was the irrigation machine, a pipe more than a thousand feet long that delivered a steady rain of water, fertilizer, and pesticide to the potato plants. The whole farm was managed from a bank of computer monitors in a control room. Sitting in that room, the farmer could, at the flick of a switch, douse his crops with water or whatever chemical he thought they needed.
One of these chemicals was a pesticide called Monitor, used to control bugs. The chemical is so toxic to the nervous system that no one is allowed in the field for five days after it is sprayed. Even if the irrigation machine breaks during that time, farmers won’t send a worker out to fix it because the chemical is so dangerous. They’d rather let that whole 135-acre crop of potatoes dry up and die.
That wasn’t all. During the growing season, some pesticides get inside the potato plant so that they will kill any bug that takes a bite. But these pesticides mean people can’t eat the potatoes while they’re growing, either. After the harvest, the potatoes are stored for six months in a gigantic shed. Here the chemicals gradually fade until the potatoes are “safe” to eat.
That’s how they grow potatoes? I had no idea! Anyone up for some French Fries today?! 🙂