I recently rediscovered the humble spud. Last week my friend Felicity boiled up some small, freshly harvested Yukon Golds, we slathered them in butter, ground pepper, and a dollop of green garlic pesto, and I was smitten all over again.
Today I feel the need to come to this vegetable’s defense.
A blogging buddy, Charmian Christie of Christie’s Corner, forwarded an inane press release designed to encourage bloggers to dis the potato in favor of a food-like product in a box made mostly from refined flour, high fructose corn syrup, and salt. When I read this missive I started to boil like those wholesome, nutrient-packed baby tubers.
This is one misguided marketing campaign, signed off by the blogger outreach manager (who knew such positions existed?) and an example of so much that is wrong with food culture in this country.
In comparison, a couple of weeks ago I attended a talk by Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio, owner of several seafood restaurants including La Mar in San Francisco (another U.S. location is opening in New York soon). He waxed rhapsodic about the range and diversity of potatoes grown in his homeland (there are thousands of varieties) and explained that at his restaurant in Lima he serves unadorned, boiled potatoes as an appetizer. He also invites the potato farmer to talk with diners about his harvest, which is highly valued in Peru.
Back to the matter at hand: I don’t want to give these foolish flacks (also known as P.R. people), their company, or their product an ounce of extra publicity, so they will remain nameless in this post. If you want specific details and a peek at the press release in all its misguided glory, mosey on over to Liz Snyder’s blog I Eat Real after you’re finished here.
I will say the corporate food conglomerate behind this is a major player who’s name rhymes with “daft” and “graft.” The product: Never heard of it, since I don’t, as a rule, buy mass produced, highly processed, edible food-like substances. Let’s just say the marketing gurus were pushing this glop as an exciting alternative to the “boring” (their branding) potato.
Didn’t these marketing mavens learn from their parents that it’s rude to promote yourself by criticizing something else? How uncivilized and uncreative, this un-potato campaign, as these hired hands dubbed it.
It gets worse, the release goes on to instruct bloggers on exactly how to shill for the company at the spud’s expense — and even offers a whopping $100 gift certificate in a contest for those who do it with style. Sadly, there must be a market among a segment of the blogging community for this kind of hack work or the corporations wouldn’t bother.
The release maintains that all that’s needed is a sense of humor (they cite the satirical mag The Onion as an example) but there’s nothing ironic about what they’re asking of cyberscribes.
These kinds of press releases don’t typically clog up my email inbox. When your blog is called Lettuce Eat Kale it’s probably safe to assume that I’m pretty pro produce.
Or maybe it’s because I don’t think there’s anything funny about encouraging people to eat crap by bad mouthing a natural crop. That’s how I see it. What say you?
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