The following thoughtful piece was written by Katie Teachout, the editor of The Ritzville Adams County Journal in Washington State.
Who can deny the beauty of a crisp fall day full of late-season sunshine and laughter in the air, as gorgeous crimson leaves twirl down to the ground from stately oaks, maples and other American hardwoods?
Last Wednesday, at the potato giveaway in Ritzville, the air had many of those same elements — spring air still crisp enough for winter jackets, and sparks of laughter as neighbors came together to distribute a bountiful harvest of potatoes.
The locally grown spuds were originally destined for area processors to turn into french fries and hashbrowns for what was a healthy restaurant industry in a vibrant economy until just a few weeks ago.
Like red, yellow and orange leaves bursting forth from trees in a brilliant display of nature’s beauty, the potatoes being delivered into so many hands, free of charge by the bag-full, several bags full or in many cases a pallet load full, was a beautiful display of a farmer’s love for his community.
But just as the beauty of the falling leaves is a sure signal of cold times ahead, the potato give-away is certainly a fair warning of things that may come to pass.
The fat, freshly washed spuds that will taste so good now may be in short supply, like so many other foods, in the coming months.
As the farmer who donated them said, “The longer we have this whole economy shut down, the longer this keeps up, the worse it’s going to get.”
As days grow longer and warmer, gardens begin to shoot forth, restrictions begin to loosen and joy returns in fuller measure, let us not close our eyes to the reality around us. Businesses have closed, people have lost jobs and our economic future is in limbo.
If this continues, we will all need a plan to put potatoes on the table in the near future.