Wondering how to eat locally during those long winter nights? Try the ultimate comfort food from Washington, crispy fries. The origins of fries are somewhat unclear.  Regardless of where they got their start, they are a favorite snack worldwide.  Follow humble Washington grown potatoes as they are transformed into the fragrant, tasty bites the whole world loves.

It starts with the soil. Grant County in Central Washington (Moses Lake area) is the #1 potato producing county in the United States. The soil in this area produces 45% more potatoes per acre than anywhere in the country. 

Seed potato pieces are loaded into potato planting machines pulled by tractors. Many potato planters are guided by GPS systems to keep the rows straight and seed potatoes planted uniformly.  

The nearby Columbia River delivers a reliable supply of water for irrigation. The soil and water combine with long, sun-filled days and cool nights to make this region ideal for growing the perfect potato.

Potatoes for fries are harvested summer through fall and sent immediately to the processing plant where they are washed, peeled, sliced, cooked and flash frozen into various popular forms. The world loves fried potatoes in many styles: tater tots, curly fries, hash browns, shoestring, lattice cut fries and more.

Photos courtesy SAGE Center at Port of Morrow. Visit the center for an opportunity to interact with a model potato processing plant!

Click on the video below to watch the whole process from start to finish.

99% of potato farms in Washington are family owned. Many of these families  have been growing potatoes here for generations. Potatoes are a $4.6 billion industry, contributing 23,500 jobs to the stateProcessing potatoes into frozen fries, and other potato products, that are shipped around the world is one of the major industries in central Washington. 

Photo by pointnshoot

Photo by stu_spluack

No matter how they are eaten, everyone loves them. Washington is proud of its potato industry. One company allows you to track your fries from field to plate. While enjoying fries during dark winter days, we can look forward to National French fry day and thank the growers, processors and shippers who capture the fresh taste of Washington potatoes. 

Photo credit Thinkbox