Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dirty Potatoes

I worked as a historical interpreter for 18 years. During that time, I heard some very funny and interesting comments made by visitors. Here is one of my favorite stories.

I took care of an heirloom garden and prepared the food in a fireplace as part of interpreting life on an 1890s mountain farm.  One day, I decided that I was going to pick a mess of beans and dig a few new potatoes to cook with them.  While I was digging out some of the new potatoes, a couple of ladies, who were in their 30s, walked up.  After welcoming them to the farm and sharing pleasantries, I told them that I was getting some beans and potatoes from my garden to cook for dinner. (I was standing in the garden and they were standing on the pathway leading to the farm and there were several rows of potatoes between us.)

They stood there and watched me for several minutes with puzzled looks. Finally, one of them said, "Well, how are you picking any potatoes?. . . I don't see any on those vines!"   I explained that potatoes are a root crop which means that they grow underground.  Silence.   One of the ladies said, "You are KIDDING!  UNDERGROUND?!" the DIRT?!"  Obviously, these ladies did not grow up on a farm!

I held one of the potatoes out for them to inspect.  Since we had a brief shower early that morning, there were small clumps of mud stuck to the potato. This was enough to make the women hesitant to actually TOUCH the potato.   As luck would have it, there was a big, pink, earthworm wiggling around in one of the clumps.  Both of the women must have seen the earthworm at about the same time because they both let out a scream.  After one of the women calmed down, she said "Well, of course, you will throw that one away because of the worm."  I explained that the worm was in the clump of dirt, not in the potato, and that I would just wash the potatoes off.  Her reply?  "I can't BELIEVE that you are going to eat that after a worm has been on it.  I am just glad that McDonald's does not get THEIR potatoes from places like this!"
I replied, "Er, well, yes, ALL potatoes are grown in soil with worms crawling around!

Another scream.  "Oh my Gawd!  I will NEVER eat french fries again!"

While this was extremely funny at the time, it is a sobering incident. It is sad that so many people are so far removed from our agrarian roots. It is no wonder that people do not even realize that they should be alarmed by all of the chemicals and genetically modified foods that we eat everyday.


  1. Good thing you didn't milk a cow in front of them!

  2. YES!! They should be screaming at what McD's is doing to their food. So sad and so real! Here's to worms, dirt, and food surrounded by both! ;)

  3. LOL Becky! That would have changed their world rather dramatically! Especially if they got a good look at what milk straight from the cow looks like! :D

  4. Kelly, so much of our food supply is just, well, MESSED UP! And people do not have enough knowledge to even begin to be able to realize that something is wrong and that they should be concerned.

  5. Bring on the dirt and worms! :D

  6. I saw some sweet potatoes up here at the market that had vines growing out of them. I congratulated Trinity for getting them without sprayed growth inhibitors, the fellow that works there but warned him that some people would probably object!

  7. Yeah Leslie, I know what you mean. I am glad to hear that they have them like that! If fruits and veggies do not look picture perfect, people do not want to buy them anymore.

    Scary story about sweet potatoes: I bought some back in something like February. The bag got pushed behind some other stuff that I had in the kitchen and I forgot about them. I found them in early July. JULY! There were no sprouts and they showed no signs of sprouting or any rot. And they were in my kitchen which is not a cool environment. They should have either been rotten or sprouting!


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