Friday, August 19, in case you didn’t know, is National Potato Day. Thanks to Mr. Potato Head and even Mrs. Potato Head, this vegetable enjoys more celebrity status than any of its colleagues. And because it can be served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and enjoyed later, as a snack to crunch on, the spud earns high marks for its versatility and chameleon-like qualities. Whether you bake it, boil it, mash it, fry it, serve it as hash browns first thing in the morning or crunch on it straight from a bag late at night while watching a movie, the potato is without doubt a vegetable worth celebrating. The crew at Colchester Neighborhood Farm has been busy digging up the spuds and there is plenty of the harvest to go around. In honor of this day officially recognizing the potato for its contribution to our overall health and well-being, I give you a few more interesting facts to consider as you nibble on some French fries.
- Ever wonder who came up with the recipe for potato chips? Apparently, the idea for this now popular snack came from a passive aggressive chef working at a resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. According to potatogoodness.com, in 1853 railroad magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt complained that his potatoes were cut too thick and sent them back to the kitchen. To spite his haughty guest, Chef George Crum sliced some potatoes paper thin, fried them in hot oil, salted and served them. To everyone’s surprise, Vanderbilt loved his “Saratoga Crunch Chips,” and potato chips have been popular ever since.
- The world’s largest potato chip was produced by the Pringle’s Company in Jackson, TN in 1990. It measured 23 inches by 14.5 inches.
- The suggestion that it’s not the potato but rather the stuff that you put on it that’s fattening is, unfortunately, true. Baked potatoes by themselves do not pack all that many calories; it’s the butter, sour cream, bacon and cheddar cheese we top them with that adds to our waistlines. According to idahopotatomuseum.com, the potato is about 80 percent water and 20 percent solid. An 8 ounce baked or boiled potato has only about 100 calories.
- In 1995, the potato became the first vegetable grown in space. NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison created the technology with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages, and eventually, feeding future space colonies.
- Thomas Jefferson introduced French fries to America when he had them served at a White House Dinner.
- The average American eats about 124 pounds of potatoes per year.
- The first permanent potato patches in North America were established in 1719, most likely near Londonderry (Derry), NH, by Scotch-Irish immigrants. From there, the crop spread across the country.
- According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest potato grown was 7 pounds 1 ounce by J. East and J. Busby of Great Britain.
- The strong connection between the Irish and potatoes is directly linked to the major outbreak of potato blight, a plant disease that swept through Europe in the 1840s, wiping out the potato crop in many countries. Because the Irish working class lived largely on potatoes, when the blight reached Ireland, killing their main staple food, many poverty-stricken families were left with no choice but to struggle to survive or emigrate out of Ireland. Over the course of the famine, almost one million people died from starvation or disease. Another one million people left Ireland, mostly for Canada and the United States.
- Though they share similar names, they are not related. The sweet potato belongs in the same family as morning glories while the white potato belongs to the same group as tomatoes, tobacco, chile pepper, eggplant and the petunia.
Stop by Colchester Neigbhorhood Farm today and pick up some freshly harvested, organically grown potatoes and serve them any way you prefer….as hash browns in the morning, french fries with lunch or baked and loaded with toppings for dinner. Tell us your favorite way to enjoy the spud.
It’s the go-to diet food. The minute we notice we have to drop a few pounds, we immediately reach for that stalk of celery. We chew on it, feeling deprived, but a bit less guilty and maybe even a few pounds lighter. Packing only ten calories while requiring a bit of energy to chew it, some believe that celery actually has a negative calorie count. But there is so much more to this vegetable than just being a popular snack for dieters. Celery, onions, and carrots are the key ingredients for mirepox, which is used as the base for many French cuisines, including sauces, stews, soups, and stocks.
This crunchy and watery vegetable has a host of other attributes, as well; from acting as an aphrodisiac to containing properties that will reduce anxiety and calm the nerves. And the best news of all is that it is currently being harvested at Colchester Neighborhood Farm and is readily available for purchase. Here are a few other fun facts about celery for you to chew on:
- Exactly how did celery become the garnish for a Bloody Mary? According to our friends at, healthdiaries.com, after a patron at the Pump Room in Chicago’s Ambassador East Hotel decided to stir his Bloody Mary with a stalk of celery, the idea caught on and it became permanently linked with the drink.
- Ancient Romans considered celery to be an aphrodisiac and they may not have been wrong about that. Today, scientists know that celery contains androsterone, a pheromone released by men’s sweat glands that attracts females. Famed Italian lover Casanova made sure to include lots of celery in his diet to keep up his stamina.
- Meanwhile, 18th century French courtesan Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV, ate celery soup and truffles in an effort to adopt a “heating diet” so she would be less frigid and more attractive to the king. It is also believed that she fed the king celery soup to fan the fires of his passion.
- A recipe was uncovered in Pompeii for a dessert that called for roasting chopped celery in an oven and serving it with honey and ground pepper.
- Around 30 AD, Aulus Cornelius Celsus wrote about using celery seeds to relieve pain.
- Celery was first introduced to America in 1856 when a Scotsman named George Taylor brought the vegetable to Kalamazoo, Michigan. By 1872, Dutch farmers were transforming acres of Kalamazoo into celery fields and the town began promoting itself as the “Celery City.” The town of Celeryville, Ohio was settled by celery farmers from Kalamazoo, Michigan who began growing the vegetable there. There is a celery museum in Portage, Michigan called the Celery Flats Interpretive Center. Despite Michigan’s and Ohio’s early lead in growing the vegetable, today, California is the nation’s top celery producer; Michigan ranks fourth.
- The 1897 Sears Catalog featured a nerve tonic made from celery and described it as a “great nerve builder.”
- Celery, onions, and bell peppers are considered the “holy trinity” of Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine.
With so many fine qualities besides being a staple food for anyone trying to shed a few pounds, it makes sense to keep and use celery and celery stalks in our recipes. Stop by Colchester Neighborhood Farm on Tuesday and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. to purchase freshly harvested and organically grown food.
Beets are one of those vegetables that may not have the prestige and popularity of green beans or even potatoes but these purple root vegetables should not be underestimated. Packing so much nutritional value as well as some ancillary benefits that are sure to boost your life in a number of ways, beets deserve a spot right next to sweet potatoes and avocados on the list of today’s popular “superfoods.” From lowering blood pressure to boosting your mood, beets are one of those vegetables that, if you haven’t incorporated them into your diet, it might be a good idea to find a place for them at your dinner table. Here are just a few of the nutritional benefits and some other advantages of eating beets.
- According to the website, lovebeets.com, beets are good for the mind, body, and spirit. Because beets contain betaine, a substance that relaxes the mind and is used to treat depression, eating beets can elevate your mood. Along with that substance, the vegetable also contains tryptophan, which is also found in chocolate and contributes to an overall sense of well being.
- Ancient Romans believed the beet to be an aphrodisiac. And they may have been on to something. Beets contain high levels of boron which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.
- Beets can be made into a wine that tastes similar to port.
- Beets are a traditional food eaten at Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
- In 1975 it was giant step for beets when, during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, cosmonauts from the USSR’s Soyuz 19 welcomed the Apollo 18 astronauts by preparing a banquet of borscht (beet soup) in zero gravity.
- Beets enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame when Dwight Schrute, a character from the hit television show The Office declared himself a devoted beet farmer, often referencing the sweet root vegetable in different episodes of the show.
- Little flakes of dandruff on your shoulders? Try boiling beets in water and then massaging the cooled down water into your scalp each night; it is believed to be an effective cure for dandruff.
- Move over tulips. According to theredrushblog.com, the biggest beet in the world weighed over 156 pounds and was grown by a Dutchman.
- Beet juice has been used on city streets to remove the ice because it doesn’t damage cars like sand or salt.
- Pickled beets on hamburgers in Australia are as integral as tomatoes on a hamburger here in the US.
- Beets are often called nature’s candy
- According to legend, if a man and woman eat from the same beetroot, they will fall in love.
- You can use beet juice as hair dye, though it will wash out rather quickly.
There’s no denying that there are plenty of nutritional and other advantages to eating beets. This week, Colchester Neighborhood Farm is packing this root vegetable into its CSA shares. Stop by the farm and pick up a few organically grown, freshly harvested beets…it could be just the pick me up you are looking for. Tell us your favorite recipe for cooking up beets.
Cucumbers are a pretty familiar part of most salads and because they are easy to grow, they tend to be a staple in most home gardens. But how well do we really know this vegetable? Chances are we don’t know it as well as we think we do. To begin with, it is not even a vegetable. Nope. Botanically speaking, a cucumber is a fruit. And you can use this versatile fruit for everything from weight loss to clean up….yup, that’s right….it can act as a cleaning agent. For more helpful hints, powerful tips, and interesting facts about the cucumber, read these astonishing bits of information from our friends at Seenox.org.
- Stop taking multi-vitamins. A cucumber contains nearly all of the vitamins you need in a day, including B vitamins, Calcium, Iron, Potassium and Zinc.
- Got a hangover or a bad headache? Eating a few cucumber slices before going to sleep can prevent a hangover. The cucumber contains enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish what was lost while partying it up at the club, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed and headache free.
- And forget the afternoon cup of Joe. One cucumber can give you a boost that will last for hours.
- On a dinner date and realize that you forgot your breath mints? Ask the waiter for a few cucumber slices. Press a slice to the roof of your mouth for 30 seconds. The phytochemicals kill the bacteria that causes bad breath.
- Cucumbers are wonderful for the digestive system, treating issues such as heartburn, gastritis, and even ulcers. Cucumbers contain 95% water which hydrates and replenishes the body and eliminates toxins. The high water content in cucumber acts as a system cleanser and sweeps the waste products out of the system.
- A daily diet of cucumbers over time can dissolve kidney stones.
And then there are the non-edible uses for the cucumber:
- Bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Rub a few cucumber slices over the mirror and it will eliminate the fog problem. It will also deliver a spa-like fragrance in the bathroom.
- Want to look your best in a bathing suit? Rubbing cucumber slices over problem areas for few minutes will help tighten skin and eliminate the look of cellulite. The phytochemical in the cucumber causes the collagen to tighten. And, yes, fabulous tip works for wrinkles, too!
- Eyes looking puffy in the morning? There is a reason why women put cucumber slices over their eyes. The cucumber will help eliminate the puffiness.
- Feeling stressed? Try cutting up a whole cucumber and placing it in boiling water. When the chemicals and the nutrients in the cucumber are released with the steam, they create a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown to reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.
- Got a squeaky door? Rub a cucumber slice over the problem hinge and the squeak is gone!
- Shoes need polishing? A freshly cut cucumber slice rubbed over the shoe will not only provide a durable shine, it will repel water.
- Grubs and slugs in your garden or planting beds? A few cucumber slices in a pie tin placed in the garden will keep the area free of pests.
- Got water marks on your faucets, sinks, or stainless steel? A slice of cucumber rubbed onto the surface will not only remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but it won’t leave streaks.
- Kids got crayon or markers on the wall? Use the outside of the cucumber to erase those “marks.”
The cucumber is one of those foods that is simply not getting the attention that it deserves. Packed with vitamins and loaded with phytochemicals that can do everything from giving you a face-lift to cleaning bathroom fixtures, maybe it is time the cucumber was added to the list of today’s superfoods. Freshly picked, organically grown cucumbers are now being harvested at Colchester Neighborhood Farm. Make sure you get yours today.