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Welcome To Potato 101

Until recently, nearly all potatoes grown within the borders of Idaho were one variety—the Russet Burbank. This variety was actually discovered by accident when a brilliant horticulturist, Luther Burbank, was experimenting with another potato variety in the back yard of his New England home. Burbank brought his first potato to California, and it later was planted in Washington and Oregon. Finally, it was modified in Colorado to have a reticulated, rough-skinned texture. Once it arrived on Idaho soil, everything changed. This grown-in-Idaho variety was perfect—dry and fluffy when baked and crispy when fried. University scientists believe it was not the Russet Burbank that made Idaho famous, but Idaho that made the Russet Burbank famous.

The reasons are simple: Idaho’s unique growing conditions, coupled with warm, sunny days and cool, crisp nights. The rich volcanic soil was just waiting for the application of water from irrigation to be able to produce bountiful crops of potatoes. These conditions are similar to those needed by vineyards to produce fine wine.

The standards adopted by Idaho potato growers, shippers, and processors were influential in the development of a federal marketing order establishing premium grade criteria. As decades passed and agricultural technology advanced, Idaho® potatoes began commanding attention from markets all over the United States. The development of additional russet, red, gold and fingerling varieties over the years has further contributed to Idaho’s market share.

While growing and shipping advances were evolving, new technology was improving Idaho® potato products. Scientists and food technologists were exploring methods for capturing the freshest of Idaho flavors to create top-quality frozen and dehydrated Idaho® potatoes. The industry’s quality controls are so sophisticated that processed potato foods are often able to maintain their nutritional content with an extended shelf life.

The Founding of the Idaho Potato Commission

In 1937 the Idaho legislature organized a promotional body to oversee the needs of the potato growers, shippers, and processors. Nine volunteer commissioners, nominated by the industry and appointed by the governor, along with a staff in the Boise, Idaho area, oversee Idaho® potato industry’s marketing strategies in advertising, public relations, and field merchandising of potato products. In addition, the Idaho Potato Commission orchestrates the licensing contracts for the use and reproduction of the copyright Idaho® and Grown in Idaho® seals. A close relationship is maintained with the University of Idaho and other agricultural institutions actively involved in research and educational programs.

Your assurance of quality: the Grown in Idaho® seal

For customers to accept a symbol of quality, it must represent a history of consistent quality. In this regard, the Grown in Idaho® seal is identified as a preeminent symbol with a strong reputation. Multiple surveys conducted by the industry journal, The Packer, reported: “Idaho® potatoes have the best growing region and brand recognition of all fresh produce items,” concluding that consumers have a greater awareness of the Idaho® name than of Indian River grapefruit, Dole pineapples, Washington apples, Chiquita bananas, or Florida oranges.

The state of Idaho requires strict inspection of its fresh potato crop and sets standards which are higher than those of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Only U.S. Grades No. 1, Standard, and No. 2 potatoes can leave the state with the Grown in Idaho® seal. This ensures that genuine Idaho® potatoes will be consistent in appearance, size, shape, and the high quality upon which their reputation has been established.