BOISE - We found an unlikely source to help get your life more in balance. It's the Idaho potato.
Numbers from the Idaho Potato Commission show 13 billion pounds of potatoes are harvested in Idaho each year, contributing $4 billion dollars - and 30,000 jobs - to the state's economy.
"We're seeing an increase in demand and we're certainly seeing an increase in recognizing the value of the Idaho potato," said Frank Muir, president and CEO of Idaho Potato Commission.
The Idaho Potato Commission, a state agency established in 1937, is charged with promoting the state's famous tuber.
"My whole goal is to make the potato cool," Muir said.
They're the ones behind the Big Idaho Potato Truck, which is now on its seventh cross-country journey. The six-ton potato hauled on a 18-wheeler flatbed has become a piece of American pop-culture.
"Everybody loves to see it," Muir said. "It's on everybody's bucket list to have seen it."
The success of the Famous Idaho Potato Tour gave Muir and others at Idaho Potato Commission another promotional idea. They partnered with Ivan Nanney, former member of the Big Idaho Potato Truck's Tater Team and Cancun.com's newest Cancun Experience Officer, to create a series of Idaho Potato Life Hack videos showcasing the many uses of Idaho potatoes beyond a recipe ingredient.
The DIY tater tricks include using potatoes to reduce puffy eyes. The video touts the enzymes in potatoes that help reduce water retention under the eyes. They also contain starch, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
Other Idaho Potato Life Hacks include preventing windshield fog, removing a broken light bulb, stamping, and peeling a potato without a peeler.
Another video shows how to remove rust from old cookware. Viewers are told to cut a potato in half, dip the cut end into the salt and exfoliate the rusty area.
"I believe Idaho Potatoes - they're delicious, nutritious - but they're also functional," Muir said. "This is all about showing the functionality and the flexibility and versatility of the Idaho potato."
It worked for the commission more than 10 years ago when they made an online video with actress Dawn Wells, best known for her role as Mary Ann on the TV show “Gilligan's Island.” The video of Wells peeling a potato without a potato peeler now has 12 million views on YouTube.
Muir says good publicity like that helps to spread the word.
"People are like, you're kidding me. You can do that with a potato?" Muir said. "And they just don't believe us so they go try it. So obviously they're using more Idaho potatoes that they're not even eating."
So the next time life throws you off balance or you're just hungry for some good 'ole French fries, consider the Idaho potato.
"It's bouncing back to me all over the place, we're getting media attention for this," Muir said. "You just never know what's going to get people's attention."
To watch all of the Idaho Potato Life Hacks videos, click here.
Here are a few more ways Idaho potatoes can help, according to IPC:
- Mask Gray Hair: Boiling potato skins creates a wonderful hair rinse that adds luster to your locks. The starch in the potatoes also acts as a natural dye and can mask gray hair.
- Wrinkle Reduction: Potato juice is a great way to keep wrinkles at bay. Use a cotton ball to apply potato juice to your face weekly to help your skin defy gravity.
- Skin Rash Relief: In the case of a skin rash, slice a potato and place it on the affected area for quick relief. Its anti-inflammatory effects help alleviate symptoms instantly.
- Non-Toxic Glass Cleaner: Clean your windows quickly and easily by rubbing a slice of potato on them and wiping off any residue with a clean piece of cloth.
- Shoe Polish: Slice a potato in half and use it to clean your leather shoes. It's not messy and it's scent-free. The flesh of the potato is minimally abrasive, preserving your shoes naturally.
- Plant Fertilizer: After you boil your potatoes in unsalted water, save the water and let it cool. Then use it to water your household plants. The starch in the potatoes stimulates the release of nutrients in the soil.