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Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to

May 21, 2019

   If you think about it, potatoes really are quite similar to rocks. They're both round-ish, ugly, and if thrown with high speed at someone's head, that individual will probably die. However, there are certain key differences between potatoes and rocks.
For one, the dull earthy hue of potatoes is generally more uniformly brown than the motley color pallet of gravels, pebbles, and stones. Additionally, most rocks only come in two varieties: serrated or smooth. Potatoes, on the other hand, are more complex beings. Under closer inspection, their skin is textured and hexagonally scaled like a dragon's. Also, potatoes have eyes, and a great number of them. Not sure why them have them, since they spend most of their lives buried under the dirt. While rocks, like many objects, have to be banged against a sharp hard corner to display such pitted pageantry, potatoes have them naturally.

   The potato, despite being an irregular-cloaked ball of starch - perhaps even because of it - has many culinary uses. They can be sliced, diced, chopped, carved, mutilated, and thrown into a huge vat of sizzling oil. Basically, anything done inside a torture chamber, you can do to a potato, with the added benefit of not being a terrible person. Potatoes bring diabetes and joy through their seasoned, myriad forms: wholly roasted, garlicky smashed, skin-baked, deeply fried, thinly crisped, salad-garnished, or skewered over fondue.  While not very flavorful alone, the potato truly stands out among companions of herbs and spices. It's a symbiotic relationship: the condiments elevate the potatoes to our finer taste buds while the potato ensures that the condiments get eaten.

   That said, bare unflavored potatoes can be just as handy and resourceful. The one measly potato wasting away on my kitchen counter could theoretically help feed a starving Prussian family. It could be cut open, gutted, and used as a poor man's jack-o-lantern. It could be used as a projectile to ward off annoying people via blunt force trauma.

   Hypothetically, of course.

   Now, you may not know this, but within each potato is the immense capacity for good and evil. Let's explore this deep and complex duality of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde's mysterious potato face.  This same potato's hearty quality that saved the Prussian people during their famine in 1744 is now slowly killing the mid and lower class. Let me explain.

   If I had to picture one food to encapsulate the quintessential fast food experience, I would picture French fries because they're so iconic. At least the other massively popular fast food, the hamburger, has a smidgen of nutritional value. But fries and chips? Their only appeal is taste and convenience. They're cheap yet deliciously filling and, therefore, are the go-to for the financially-challenged, or the just-busy families. Large corporations know this and capitalize on it with their flashy, tempting, "supersize-me" offers on billboards everywhere. Golden potatoes represent everything that has gone wrong with the current state of affordable food in America.

    The nature of this plant is that they are easy: easy to grow, easy to buy, easy to eat. For 99 cents you can buy a boatload of cheap, empty calories. Some may critique this tendency, saying families should be more discerning about eating nutritious foods.  However, the fact of the matter is, salads are expensive, hard to prepare, or both. Either you pay double at the fast food drive-thru or you buy vegetables on sale or in bulk from the retail store. Still, you'll need to prepare them. This becomes exponentially more cumbersome and challenging in a household with children, due to obvious time constraints.  It's also no easy feat resisting kids' cravings for these better tasting competitors. After all, do you know any child who picks asparagus over fries?

    Think of it this way: if you're trying to get to work, what kind of gas do you fill your car with? The premium high octane gas that's more efficient for your engine, but costs forty cents more per gallon? Or the standard lower octane gas, which burns more gasoline and therefore further worsens the greenhouse effect? Unfortunately, if you are like most, you would choose the less expensive gas and similarly favor the fries.

   Potato supporters would argue that potatoes are not just carbohydrate-loaded with energy, but they are packed with essential fibers, vitamins, and minerals.  In fact, one serving of potato contains zero fat, zero sodium, zero cholesterol, and a bare 110 calories like a single stick of string cheese. This starchy zero holds two grams of fiber, similar to half a cup of cooked spinach, as well as vital vitamins and minerals, like B6 and C, calcium, iron, and potassium.  Unfortunately, these nutritional elements are mainly in the skin. So the peeling, cooking, frying, baking, boiling, parching, and stewing can all deplete the nutritional benefits of potato-kind. Then adding the butter or batter undoubtedly increases the caloric content.

    Despite its negatives, if you took away the potato, you'd be throwing a damaging wrench into the daily lives of many people. In the direst circumstance, you'd be taking away one of the most common ways for the world to get fed. On the other hand, in order to improve humanity's health, we have to let ourselves starve. The potato is a convoluted paradox just by existing.

   I hope this essay helps to establish how amazingly controversial potatoes are, and how important they are to mankind. Potatoes are big and potatoes are small. Potatoes are dried and potatoes are fried. Potatoes are healthy and potatoes are harmful. Potatoes are life and potatoes are death.


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  • May 21, 2019 - 11:18pm (Now Viewing)

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1 Comment
  • luluwrites111

    i love this so much! it starts with a humorous tone, but it is a serious topic, and you bring the reader to attention with the style of writing!

    about 3 years ago