The death of the potato: are millennials to blame?
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FOOD HONESTLY

The death of the potato: are millennials to blame?

Not if Team Pool has anything to do with it

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By Emily Baker on

Millennials get a bad rap, but we have actually done some good economic work over the past few years – sales of avocados, soap and flat whites have all shot up since the younger among us reached spending maturity. But now our generation faces new troubles, as we are tarnished with the outrageous accusation that millennials are causing the death of the potato.

According to industry magazine The Grocer, sales of potatoes were down 5.4% last year and – as always – millennials are to blame. The review claims that we are eschewing potatoes in favour of more “healthy and exotic” options like, er, rice, which has seen a rise of 30% over the last four years. “Shoppers have a new squeeze when it comes to carbohydrates. Rice and noodles are viewed as everything many say the spud is not – healthy, convenient and exotic,” reads the article. “Many, particularly millennial and Generation Z consumers, see spuds as stodge that will make them fat. To boot, they’re often a faff to prepare.” But we say nay.

Incensed by the defamatory claim that the millennial generation is causing the demise of the nation’s much-loved spud, I took to emailing The Pool team – mostly made up of millennials – to get their views on potatoes. While not groundbreaking (or in any way scientific), the results are in direct opposition to The Grocer’s claims.

Of the 12 Pool members who answered my email (truly, this is the most unscientific and biased survey on potatoes you’ll ever read), nine are millennials ranging from ages 25-35. Every single one of them eats potatoes and only one doesn’t buy potatoes to cook and eat at home – but they don’t cook at all, so that doesn’t really count. As for the regularity of potato consumption amongst The Pool’s millennials, it ranges from “as much as possible” to at least once a week – in conclusion, we eat potatoes a lot.

The Grocer thinks millennials don’t eat potatoes because we think they’re unhealthy, but the results of The Pool’s Potato Survey 2018 go against this, too. “Potatoes are a healthy carb! If you overanalyse your food, you’ll find unhealthy traits in everything, so moderation is key to a healthy and YUMMY diet,” replied one staffer. Another said, “I read once that potatoes contain everything the human body needs to survive – nay, thrive – apart from the nutrients and fats you get from milk/dairy. You can basically LIVE on potatoes. They're filling, full of fibre and endlessly satisfying in a multitude of ways.” (Disclaimer: please don’t try to live on just potatoes.) Another conclusion can be drawn here – we don’t really care.

Anyone who judges a potato on its Instagram worthiness is not worthy of a delicious potato

The idea that millennials don’t buy potatoes because they’re unfashionable is nonsense, too – after all, there are almost 3.5 million Instagram posts tagged with #potato. It’s more that millennials (again, we’re talking about a cross-section of nine people who all work in the same office here) don’t think Instagramming any food is cool – only two surveyed said they would post a photo of a potato and even then it’s likely to be in chip form. One staff member even went as far to say, “Anyone who judges a potato on its Instagram worthiness is not worthy of a delicious potato.” Another added, “What sort of moron considers whether their food looks good on Instagram? The world has gone to the dogs. JUST EAT IT.”

The Grocer report suggests that more convenient purchases such as microwavable packets of rice are more popular among millennials. But what seems to have been overlooked is that a jacket potato takes no more than five minutes in a microwave, too. Those surveyed agree that potatoes are an incredibly convenient meal: “Sooo convenient! Pop it in the microwave, add tuna – a meal!” “Is there anything more convenient than sticking a potato in the oven, going away for an hour and coming back to your dinner? I think not.”

As I’m sure you’ll agree, this proves proves millennials are not responsible for the UK’s lack of potato purchases. So, who is? Let me turn your attention to the two Gen Xers who responded to my survey (for clarity: another Gen Xer also provided answers, but she loves potatoes as much as the next millennial). The other two, however, believe potatoes are “bad carbs” and only eat potatoes “once every two weeks” or “as a treat”. The same goes for the one member of Generation Z in the office, who hasn’t bought a potato for the past TWO YEARS.

This is not an effort to shame Gen X and Zers who don’t buy potatoes – it would just be nice for millenials not to be blamed for everything. If we know anything for certain, it’s that potato sales are falling – at this stressful, dangerous time, we need to look past inter-generational feuds and unite together to preserve the fate of one of the most delicious root vegetables this country produces. For, in the words of reluctant millennial and deputy fashion editor at The Pool Hannah Banks-Walker, “Whoever does not enjoy potatoes is surely not enjoying life.”

@emilyrbakes

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Photo: Getty Images
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