CENTER, Colo. — “We’re taking care of our customers’ needs,” co-owner and sales agent Dwayne Weyers said recently of Aspen Produce’s year-round potato program.
Weyers said the operation provides all consumer packs as well as Kwik Lok closures that have trace-back information printed directly on the Loks. The closures also feature a food-safety precaution note to wash and cook the potatoes, which are Colorado’s highest-acreage vegetable crop, thoroughly before consuming.
He noted that demand for jumbo packs has increased in the past few years, with consumers “now buying large potatoes bagged at retail.”
Weyers also addressed the matter of potatoes as vegetables, an issue that has been elevated to headline status due to white spuds’ controversial exclusion from the Women, Infants & Children program.
“When you have vegetable soup, what do you have? Potatoes, onions, carrots and peas. When you have stew, you have potatoes. When you have shepherd’s pie, you have potatoes. Potatoes have always been a staple in our diet. The [U.S. Department of Agriculture] Dietary Guidelines are due out again in 2015, and if they use science, which they’re supposed to, we’ll be OK,” he said.
In the meantime, the National Potato Council has released its own dietary stats in the 2014 Potato Statistical Yearbook, noting that french fries have a higher potassium content than 13 other commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. Second on the list arebaked potatoes with skin; fourth are oven-baked french fries; fifth are baked potatoes without skin; and seventh are potatoes boiled without skin.
Moreover, french fries rank third in dietary fiber content out of 14 vegetables, the yearbook states. All information was prepared by the Alliance for Potato Research & Education.
A member of the NPC executive board of directors for three years, Weyers is also vice president of grower relations.
Source: The Produce News