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Potato Commissioner Vows Eating 20 Potatoes a Day for 2 Months

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by hearit

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In The News

The head of the Washington State Potato Commission claims he’s tired of people linking spuds to junk food: at weeks’ end, commission head Chris Voigt plans to eat nothing for 60 days but potatoes. Ironically, in battling the stigma of potatoes as nothing but junk food, the commission head’s 2-month diet is set to include chips. A larger, unreferenced, motivation may be in play: the potato industry is currently in its own battle to stabilize, recent reports reflecting 20—25% drops in respective frozen and fresh potato exports.

In a format similar to the grapefruit diet but with a starchy twist, Voigt plans to eat potatoes—and lots of them: the personal menu includes the equivalent of 20 potatoes per day. It seems Voigt is taking his work home with him. "I woke up one day and said, 'I'm tired of getting beaten up,' Voigt’s expressed to the media. "The potato has a pretty poor reputation in the U.S., and it's time to do something extreme to wake them [Americans] up to just how great the potato really is," Voigt told the press.

Voigt cites the fact that potatoes are packed with nutrients like potassium, fiber and vitamin C—plus an abundance of protein. The commission leader’s newfound diet plan over the next two months is slated to include "many processed potato products such as chips, dehydrated potatoes and frozen potatoes" but nothing that adds nutritional value. Seasonings and herbs are alright, Voigt’s expressed via blog, but "no creamy scalloped or cheesy twice baked" form of the spuds are on his list. Apparently, enhancing the flavor aspect of the potato isn’t on the marketing list of goals—at least for this stint.

Some of Voigt’s daily spud intake will be cooked in oil, a dietitian’s advice following concern over complete absence of fat in a potatoes-only diet. The commission head doesn’t claim the diet will be as exciting to others, even those in close proximity: "My family is excited about this diet," Voigt claims. "But they're [family members] not about to join me [in the potatoes-only diet]. So they'll be eating steak or a roast or chicken, and I guess I'll just have to sit there and stare."

Hmmm…not sounding like family members are quite as “excited” as the claim—possibly “excited” that they’re not having to partake in the experiment. The excitement doesn’t exactly seem to be emanating from the potato-eater himself either--perhaps the “sit there and stare” quote should have been bypassed if Voigt has plans to entice the rest of America to his ‘potato ways’.

It doesn’t exactly seem out of the question that the Washington State Potato Commissioner’s career may be fueling motivation—two months of blandness, after all, would be a small price to pay. The commission head doesn’t reference recent potato industry numbers and a sharp downturn in potato exports as any part of his newfound diet motivation, however the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC) has released report that frozen potato exports are down 20% internationally for last year, fresh potato exports down 25% in final numbers for 2009. 2010 numbers are said to show signs of the potato industry supposedly working to stabilize this year—at the close of July 2010, the Journal Pioneer quotes APEC numbers of frozen potato exports down 15%, fresh exports down 26%.

Senior policy analyst with APEC, Fred Bergman, says The Journal Pioneer says there is a possible link between potato industry changes and a change in eating habits during current economic conditions. While logic might lend itself to the idea that people are eating more at home during tough economic times, utilizing or even purchasing more of the affordable staples like potatoes for home use, that might just be the problem for the potato industry and its numbers. Or, rather, restaurants are using less spuds: "One thing (people) will typically try to do [in an economic downturn] is stop going out to restaurants as much,” says Bergman, “because that's seen almost as a luxury item" during economic crisis. "If they [people] normally go out and have a meal with potatoes, or maybe drive through a McDonald's and get some French fries, they're less likely now to do that [during hard economic times]. You get changes in consumption behavior," quotes the Journal Pioneer.

Hey, potato man: cop to the real reason. It’s admirable, and understandable, to preserve a career—eating a potato, with no toppings, not so much.

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