POCATELLO, ID—Hailing our day and age as the “single greatest moment in history to be a potato consumer,” National Potato Council president Dan Lake declared Tuesday that the United States is in the midst of an unparalleled potato renaissance.
Drawing on his decades of experience as a celebrated cultivator, observer, and student of the root vegetable, Lake described “a great flourishing of the potato” across America, a profound phenomenon the likes of which we may never see again.
“If you’ve been lucky enough to get your hands on a Yukon Gold or Red Thumb in the past few years, I needn’t tell you these are the halcyon days of the potato,” Lake said during his keynote address at the Idaho Potato Conference, stressing that he spoke not in his role as a potato representative, but as a connoisseur and human being. “At present, every aspect of potato culture, from the field to your plate, is undergoing a great and exhilarating renewal, and for those who appreciate the finer qualities of this starchy tuber, the bounty will be breathtaking.”
“The forthcoming generations will grow up knowing only a world in which potatoes stand exalted and supreme. They will bask in the splendors of vegetables once derided as ‘taters’ and ‘spuds.’ Ladies and gentlemen, we stand on the threshold of a shining, triumphant, potato-filled tomorrow.”
“Right here, right now is the dawn of the potato age,” he added. “In our produce aisles, a brilliant transformation is afoot.”
Sources within the nation’s foremost agricultural circles confirmed there had long been murmurs of a coming pomme de terre époque, a new awakening across the country that would signal a shift in the way Americans think about potatoes. They cited advances in cultivation, packaging, shipment, and storage as bellwethers of the modern era of potato enlightenment, a period in which all people will, according to Lake, “revel in the glories of the potato.”
At the conference, Lake evoked with great satisfaction the reimagined world of potatoes his generation would be able to hand to the next—one brimming with vast fields of impeccable Kennebecs, Austrian Crescents, and Purple Majesties—yet he emphasized that the immense tuberous achievements we enjoy today were by no means inevitable.
“The 1970s through the mid-’80s were dark times for the potato, as most of us here remember all too well,” said Lake, recalling the benighted attitudes toward Russet Burbanks and fingerlings he had been subjected to as a young man. “Many questioned whether we would ever recover. To all the naysayers who turned their backs on potatoes, to them I say, ‘Look at potatoes now. Look at the Adirondack Red, the Elba, the Colorado Rose, the German Butterball!’”
“When the chronicle of our age is written, the potato will be on page one,” Lake continued. “The forthcoming generations will grow up knowing only a world in which potatoes stand exalted and supreme. They will bask in the splendors of vegetables once derided as ‘taters’ and ‘spuds.’ Ladies and gentlemen, we stand on the threshold of a shining, triumphant, potato-filled tomorrow.”
While encouraging potato growers to take pride in ushering in this unprecedented potato resurgence, Lake cautioned against falling victim to excessive hubris and urged the industry not to rest on its laurels.
“Let us not forget the lessons of history: The superiority of the green bean went unquestioned for decades, and we all know what happened to it,” he said. “It is critical that we never take this golden age for granted, because there but for the grace of God go potatoes.”