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Is There a Source for Year-Round Organic Russets?

Q:

I’m starting up a restaurant chain that offers organic made-to-order, fresh-cut French fries and I am finding it difficult to nail down a supply for organic russet potatoes. 

The restaurant is located in the Chicago Suburbs and I wanted to touch base with you to see if you had any insight as to where I should be looking to obtain this supply of potatoes. 

A:

While your request would seem simple, “I want a consistent source for organic potatoes for my French fries” it gets complicated very quickly:

1. Most organic potato growers have chosen to concentrate on varieties that they can charge a little bit more for, rather than russets, which are very competitive with many states growing them already. The growers tend to look for reds, yellows and fingerlings.

2. Organic growers typically have a lot s of crops in rotation, so even the largest ones might only have 50 acres planted in potatoes out of say, 500 acres total of vegetables.

3. In the majority of states, potatoes are a once a year crop for harvesting so they have to be stored in a controlled atmosphere for extended periods of time. Russets from Idaho typically will start to sprout even with proper storage in 4-5 months. Commercial products such as Sprout Nip help slow this down. There’s been some experimentation with mint and clove for organic, but the longest I’ve heard is a fall crop lasting until maybe March. So, you are going to have to find multiple sources.

4. Elevation Burger touts its organic beef program for the thirty domestic stores, but with French fries they have not found a year-round source, especially as they grew past the Virginia start up area. What they do claim is fresh fries and gluten free (by using olive oil for frying) if that helps.

 

Give some thought before locking yourself into an ideal situation, it’s going to take multiple sources for organic potatoes. I’ve attached some links for organic Idaho potato sources as well as other pertinent information.

 

http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20150227/idaho-spud-packers-emphasize-organic

https://www.potatopro.com/news/2018/wada-farms-improves-year-round-availability-organic-potatoes-partnership-genesis-organics

https://idahopotato.com/dr-potato/dr-potato-loves-all-potatoes-not-just-the-ones-recommended-by-prevention-magazine-organic-potatoes

https://idahopotato.com/dr-potato/does-idaho-grow-any-organic-potatoes

https://idahopotato.com/directory/organic

https://chathamfarmsupply.com/seasonal-orders/2018-seed-potato-catalog

 

http://www.potandon.com/sell-sheets

http://www.wadafarms.com/organic/

http://www.eagleeyeproduce.com/potatoes.html