Excuse Me, How Do You Open This Potato?

solanum-tuberosum-plasticenumI discovered yet another questionable invention in a mega-chain grocery store. Nestled in the mounds of bagged potatoes, heaps of loose bakers and tumbling towers of red boilers was a newcomer to the ‘tater table. I ventured closer. Thin plastic was wrapped both a humble Idaho potato and a Missouri-grown sweet potato. What could this be?


I picked up one of each and felt only the slick plastic. They were lacking the hint of earth smell I love about root vegetables. Mother Nature was again smothered in human processing – wrapped, stamped and labeled – complete with a yellow pull tab marked “OPEN”.

An OPEN tab?! On a potato?! I’ll admit that part of the fun of my supermarket forays is see the freak shows marketers create with our food; done as a means to separate us from our dollars while reinforcing the contemporary corporate credo that our food must have something DONE to it before it’s okay to eat.


Back to our potatoes in hand. All of the following phrases appeared on one of these now handy-dandy, individually wrapped, previously-just-perfect, raw foods: “Microwave-Ready”, “Pre-washed”, “Express BakeTM“, and the ever-so reassuring “Double Washed”.


What’s the Big Deal About a Little Plastic?

Why the rant? Admittedly, it’s just a potato. It’s just some plastic packaging. It’s just a bit more fossil fuel used to produce another useless piece of plastic. Plus, some people like individual servings. Some would prefer to stuff a potato in their er… briefcase (don’t go there!) and know that it’s hermetically sealed against … what? Everyon I know would wash them again anyway despite the printed assurances of careful corporate cleansing.


The big bag gets you more bang for your buck. True, 75* cents may be a handy price if you are looking for a quick lunch. Let’s see. The bag nearby was $2.99 and organic was $3.99. I counted the number of potatoes in the bags. I must say that during these grocery store forays, it’s a wonder I haven’t been thrown out for suspected industrial espionage. I counted several bags to get an average. I did the math. The individually wrapped potatoes calculated to $12.00 a bag! I shake my head and buy one of each for the benefit of my audience and to be able to later take a photo without the fear of the aforementioned ejection. I feel shame at the checkout counter though.


Now, I’m not a raw foodist, but I do know where food comes from. It all starts raw and the farther away we get from the source, the more processed an item is, the farther down the rabbit hole of nutritional waste we go. Our society’s obsession with having to DO something to our food before it’s considered socially acceptable to eat is taking its toll on our pocketbooks, our health and our sense of connection to the earth.


A recent example from my life was the visit from a seldom-seen, curious neighbor. She recently got the nerve to approach my formidable, buried-in-nature house under the pretext of borrowing a cup of sugar. Okay, I’m kidding. No one uses that excuse anymore. I think it was a lost dog, but in any event, she typifies this brainwashing toward our food.


A brave soul, she wandered through the maze of six-foot high rosemary bushes and picked her way along the stone patio among containers of organic edibles and experimental eats in earth. I greeted her and she commented on the flora around us, as all my wide-eyed visitors that make it this far are want to do. We were standing in my two-story sunroom/greenhouse with orchids and non-native tropicals surrounding us, steamed by the inside hot tub. After small talk, she was truly appalled when I snipped a leaf of basil from the container nearby and offered her a plump leaf to taste. The look on her face made me realize that I had just confirmed her suspicions about me being a nut job and that I had just fertilized the neighborhood grapevine.


“J… J… Just like THAT?!” she stammered, truly appalled that someone would eat something that was just plucked from the earth, for God’s sake.


I asked the next question. I had to. I’m bad that way.

“Yes! What would you ever do to it?” I asked, crunching on the next spicy leaf. I explained that I had just watered them this morning and I saw no dirt or aphids. I tried to sound defensive. Admittedly, the aphid bit was meant to really bring the color to her cheeks. “No pesticides either — unlike the stuff in the stores,” I continued.

I proffered another leaf. She shook her head, no thank you. She then made a curious rolling gesture with her hands. Now it was my turn to became appalled. She asked me in all sincerity, “Don’t you need to … I don’t know… wrap it up or something first??”


Really!? Perhaps ripping open a plastic covering would have helped her feel more comfortable. And we wonder why some people have no idea that eating a cheeseburger is really killing a cow or that bacon comes from the belly side of a butchered animal smarter than the family dog.


So, what are you having for lunch today? Perhaps you brought a whole potato to work to microwave. Poke it and nuke it and you’ve got a modern baked potato in about 7 minutes. If your fridge at work has a stash of Earth Balance®, you can add that to it instead of butter. Ignore those little packages of processed sour cream that people toss in break-room fridge drawers trying to be helpful. Instead, top with some chopped broccoli pieces, add a piece of fruit or a whole grain muffin and you’ve got a perfect low-calorie, nutritious, and quick lunch! And smile because you don’t need instruction on how to open your potato.

Peace, Love and Veggies,


♥ ☼ ღ ॐ ♥ ☼ ღ ॐ ♥ ☼ ღ ॐ ♥ ☼ ღ ॐ ♥ ☼ ღ ॐ ♥ ☼ ღ ॐ ♥


Sweet potatoes in plastic and potatoes in foil

UPDATE: I saw this option recently in a supermarket. I like that someone is thinking that people may want an option that doesn’t use their microwaves and so opted for foil. Pop that ‘tater in the toaster oven at work for 20 minutes and a sweet potato is ever faster and is a SUPERFOOD.


8 thoughts on “Excuse Me, How Do You Open This Potato?

  1. Are you JOKING about the neighbor?! No, I know you’re not, but I’m appalled that she thought eating a leaf of lettuce right off the plant was strange! My husband has gone to the grocery store recently and brought back shrink-wrapped sweet potatoes. I’ve got to share your thoughts with him. Thanks for doing the math for the rest of us!

    1. Nope, not kidding about the neighbor. She has since moved. Perhaps our “almost-country” neighborhood lifestyle was not for her. Too bad she didn’t stick around for the fermented veggies and homebrewed beer!

  2. Well I tried one of these plastic wonders and have some thoughts.
    First, the instructions were not very helpful as it did not tell me how long to cook this little fellow in the nuker. I chose 3:30 thinking, let’s half the normal cooking time. I mean since you don’t peel off the plastic before cooling, it must be like that dark pad on microwave popcorn and heats it up faster.
    Well yeah, it was burning hot after the shortened time and just as you mentioned in your article, the little pull tab was far less than helpful getting the plastic broken open.
    After a few minutes of doing the monkey dance on the wrapper (making chimp sounds and trying arcane techniques for breaking into this high tech wonder) I decided to just cut a slit long-ways in the thing and use the plastic as a convenient bowl. Well to make this long story a bit shorter, let’s just say it worked and the tater was mostly cooked. From that point I enjoyed the tasty tater, but left the double washed skin uneaten as I just kept thinking of all the chems that may have leached from the plastic. So to wrap up (I’m sure there was not a pun there), the meal was interesting and tasty, the burns on my fingers were healed in only a few days and I learned that VeggieVal knows her stuff.

  3. Just recently I saw a picture online that showed already peeled bananas wrapped in plastic which were sold in Austria! Can it get any better?! I found your very interesting blog at TALU!

  4. I have seen those potatoes in the store and immediately said to my kids, “All potatoes are micro-waveable.” Baffling, really. But then, my kids have their snacks right out of the yard when they’re out playing. Apples, pears, strawberries, lettuce…it’s all perfect. TALU!

  5. I once had a child (a relative) refuse the carrots at Easter dinner because she saw me pull them out of the garden. “But they came out of the dirt!”
    “Where did you think the carrots at the store come from?”
    “Out of a can.”

    (Forehead slap)


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