By Dan Wilson - Contributing columnist

Growing up Irish Catholic has its positives. Big family, big events and always big meals. Well, the meals only look big sitting on the table before a blessing. After that, it looks more like a war zone. After 13 people have picked through a carcass that used to be some bird, along with the crumbs a mouse would find deficient it was time to clean up and find some other excuse to get out of there to avoid the preverbal “dish washing marathon.” UHG! I always said that’s why God blessed me with six sisters, which usually guaranteed me a spot in the wash line. UHG!

In a matter to avoid all the stereotypical things associated with a family like ours (all of which are true, LOL ) I must say that the staple of most meals was God’s gift (or bane) to the Irish — the potato.

Ahh yes, the potato. You could possibly have some form of this magnificent vegetable with every meal. My sister, Dawn, makes killer potato pancakes. Homemade french fries were always delicious. And mashed potatoes complimented every dinner.

Potatoes are the No. 1 vegetable crop in the United States and the fourth most consumed crop in the world, behind rice, wheat and corn, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Historically, Americans ate most of their potatoes fresh. Since the 1950s, however, processed potatoes — French fries and hash browns, for example — have grown more popular as the technology to freeze the vegetables has improved.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, processed potatoes composed 64 percent of total U.S. potato use during the 2000s, compared to 35 percent in the 1960s. Americans, on average, eat 55 lbs. (35 kilograms) of frozen potatoes per year, 42 lbs. (19 kg) of fresh potatoes, 17 lbs. (8 kg) of potato chips and 14 lbs. (6 kg) of dehydrated potato products.

Potatoes are often thought of as a comfort food — richly mashed with butter and sour cream or crisply fried in vegetable oil. But when prepared in these ways, they can lead to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease.

Idaho grows roughly one-third of the U.S. fall potato crop. New York uses the most Idaho potatoes, followed by Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas.

In Ohio, counties with the most acres in potatoes are located in the northern region of the state. The following counties are the top potato producers in the state: Wayne, Fulton, Henry, Portage, Champaign and Washington.

Planted in spring, potatoes are really easy. Just put in the ground and hill up dirt or mulch (leaves or straw) as the plant itself grows up. Just wait for the plant to die off and then dig up your taters. You will need store bought seed potatoes as grocery store potatoes are usually sprayed with chemicals that keep them from sprouting.

When to plant potatoes in Ohio? — As early as St. Patrick’s Day through June.

I really need me some potato pancakes — hmmm.

Here’s seeing you, in Ohio Country!


By Dan Wilson

Contributing columnist

The writer is an award-winning veteran broadcaster for more than 30 years.

The writer is an award-winning veteran broadcaster for more than 30 years.