Idaho Potatoes:

Supporting an active lifestyle

Published in the July 2012 Issue Published online: Jul 12, 2012 Frank Muir, IPC President and CEO
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I recently read that Idaho residents are among the most physically active in the country. A study conducted by the Sporting Good Manufacturers Association revealed the top five states with the most physically active adults, and Idaho ranked No. 2. Other active states include Utah, New Hampshire, Colorado and Minnesota.

The results of the study didn't surprise me at all. Idaho's unique desert-like climate and mountainous terrain offer an abundance of year-round outdoor recreational activities. In the winter months, I see skis strapped to car rooftops and snowmobiles hauled by SUVs. And, when the sun is shining, joggers own the roadways and canoes and kayaks populate the rivers. Idaho is also home to many world-renowned athletes, including Kristin Armstrong, who two years ago was crowned the fastest female cyclist in the world.

What brought this study to my attention was the strong connection to Idaho's commitment to physical activity and the Idaho Potato Commission's (IPC) overarching goal-to remind consumers that Idaho potatoes are a nutrient-dense food that can help support a healthy and active lifestyle. It's been one of our primary messages for the last eight years and almost every initiative we've launched has supported this position.

Fitness guru Denise Austin has served as our spokesperson and stars in our national television commercials, communicating the importance of eating healthy, balanced meals to support an active lifestyle.

The IPC's sponsorship of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl offers an opportunity for us to reach millions of consumers with our health message through a sport where nutrition and physical activity go hand in hand.

When the American Heart Association certified Idaho potatoes as a heart-healthy food last year, it validated the potatoes' nutritional profile and gave consumers another reason to look for the "Grown in Idaho" seal when purchasing potatoes.

Locally, the IPC regularly sponsors events that encourage Idahoans to get active. For years, we've sponsored Boise's Famous Idaho Potato Marathon, in May we sponsored the Exergy Tour, a premiere female cycling event, and we supported the Special Olympics when they hosted their winter games in Idaho in 2009.

In celebration of the IPC's 75th anniversary, we built the world's largest potato on wheels, the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck. It's currently touring the country to help raise funds and awareness for Meals On Wheels, a non-profit organization that provides more than one million meals each day to homebound seniors. We learned that potatoes are a staple food for this group and approximately 70 percent of all meals served include a potato.

In addition to these high-profile programs, the nutrition and healthy lifestyle messages are integrated into our social media programs, communicated in our consumer newsletter, Tater Talk, and we have an entire section devoted to nutrition on our website

Potatoes are an integral part of Idahoans' lives. The industry generates more than $4 billion to the local economy and provides more than 30,000 jobs.

Idaho potatoes literally "fuel" the state and its residents.

It's gratifying for me to be able to work with a product that positively impacts the lives of millions of folks regionally and around the world.