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BLACKFOOT â€” Popular for their color, flavor and health benefits, 'purple potatoes' are in hot demand across the country, prompting growers and distributors in East Idaho to step up to the plate.
Lanae Workman, marketing executive for Potandon Produce in Idaho Falls, said that the purple (or blue-skinned) potatoes have been in the news recently "for their abundance of antioxidants and nutrients," not found in the lighter-skinned potatoes.
"These potatoes have a high nutritional value and chef's from gourmet restaurants are picking them up to add color and unique flavor to their dishes," Workman said."It's kind of like the 'sweet potato' trend that hit a few years ago."
Specialty markets and health food stores across the country such as Trader Joe's and Whole Food Markets are also requesting the unique 'taters' more than ever before because of high customer demand.
Richard Johnson, who operates Grove City Gardens, a 20-acre farm outside Blackfoot, said he has grown a lot of the colored spuds, such as the All Blue Purple, Dark-Red Norland, Banana and Fingerling varieties because it's what his customers have been asking for the past few years.
"These potatoes go fast at the farmer's markets. People do love them. They are very healthy and can be prepared a number of ways," Johnson said. "My nieces love the purple potatoes mashed, because they turn pink and they love eating pink potatoes."
Johnson has met with a seed grower for the upcoming planting season, saying," Our seed is non-GMO and certified organic; we adhere to natural and sustainable practices and are planning out some of the new colored varieties for this year.
It is believed that purple potatoes originated in Peru and Bolivia. Now, there are over 200 kinds of purple potatoes in the United States, many that have been cross-pollinated by ag researchers in recent years to feed the ever-growing demand for tasty, highly nutritional whole food products with 'color.'
For more information and tasty recipes for 'purple potatoes' go to: www.klondikebrands.com.