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The Potato Expo Is Back And It’s No Small Fry

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Left: The flyer for 2022's Potato Expo. Right: Why people are gathering for the aforementioned expo.
( Potato Expo/Hai Nguyen
/
Unsplash)
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The spud-tacular Potato Expo has returned.

While the pandemic halted the potato industry’s largest annual reunion in North America, this year the Anaheim Convention Center has been full of action.

There are talks about potato-growing techniques, climate change and nutrition standards. The expo even has cooking demos and a baked potato bar for attendees looking to be more than a spec-tater.

The expo brings farmers and industry experts from around the world together under one roof. Kam Quarles is the chief executive officer of the National Potato Council, which puts on the annual event. He says the industry is incredibly diverse, a starch range of variation across the board.

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“When people think of potatoes, obviously, you know, they think of Idaho, but really, there's in the United States, there's commercial potato production in over 30 states,” Quarles said.

They use the expo to address a multitude of issues facing the potato industry, including inflation, supply chain issues and how to safely grow crops during COVID-19. About 60% of the U.S. potato industry goes into foodservice, he says. That includes restaurants, hotels and cruise ships — industries that were hit hard earlier in the pandemic.

“It's kind of everything under the sun that you can imagine in running a family farm in the United States,” he said. “Farmers are pretty resilient folks. Even though the pandemic has been a whole new challenge, they've weathered it about as you would think a farmer would do.”

As for his favorite potato? Quarles says: “An American grown variety. I have to be diplomatic about that one.”

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The Potato Expo closes Thursday at 6:30 p.m. For those rooting for a good time, you better hop tuber it.

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