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A Tasty Spud

The U.S. has long been an agricultural powerhouse, blessed with rich soils and enabled by extensive irrigation. After corn, wheat, soybeans, and sugar crops, the food we grow the most of is potatoes. In 2015, American farmers grew 44 billion pounds of potatoes, heavily concentrated in the states of Idaho and Washington. That’s 137 pounds of potatoes for every man, woman, and child in this country.[1]

Like all plants, potatoes need nutrients to grow; the nutrients they most require are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Most farmers apply synthetic fertilizers derived from mineral deposits or from capturing nitrogen from the atmosphere. To grow their spuds, farmers used a total of 5 million pounds of fertilizers in 2015. This translates to about 3 2/3 grams of fertilizer for the 11-ounce (~300 gram) potato you see here. Bon appétit!

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[1] Data from USDA: https://www.nass.usda.gov/Surveys/Guide_to_NASS_Surveys/Chemical_Use

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A Tasty Spud