Idaho: Mountain of Discarded Potatoes Saved in ‘Potato Rescue’
Despite a growing demand in grocery stores, potato prices have plummeted in the last few weeks due to social distancing guidelines and a lack of demand in restaurants and the food industry. Just weeks prior, the industry was looking at the best prices in recent memory and even projections for a summer shortage, The Associated Press reported.
The cost for a 50-pound carton of restaurant-grade potatoes in the Twin Falls and Burley district hovered between USD22 and USD23 on March 13 but had dropped to somewhere between USD10 and USD12 by April 16.
Some farmers in Idaho have such extreme surpluses that they are dumping potato crops, and dairy farms have begun feeding the potatoes to their cattle.
Last week, a photo shared by Molly Page, a Hailey, Idaho, local, emerged on social media showing mountains of potatoes going to waste, after being dumped by farmers. Page’s photo showed a mountain of discarded potatoes at Silver Creek Seed Farm in Picabo, Idaho, according to the Idaho Mountain Express newspaper, and it quickly went viral.
“I heard about the farmers dumping the potatoes through a local farmer, and it was heartbreaking to see. Just seeing this huge pile of potatoes that they didn’t have a market for. So that compelled me and a group of people here to act,” said Page.
Using the advantage of a small town and her history of community outreach, Page organized a 25-person “potato rescue team” to help gather the dumped potatoes and bring the spuds to those who need food in the Hailey and Ketchum, two towns in Blaine County, Idaho, about 160 miles east of Boise.
“I felt it was time to get a group of people together and mobilize quickly to get these potatoes to people who need them,” Page said.
Page added that another potato rescue is in the works planned for the following weekend.