"People on the Street" is a regular front-page below-the-fold feature in the Saturday edition of our local daily, The Tipton County Tribune. Yesterday's question was "What's your favorite vegetable?"
The reporter sought out children ages eight to ten to whom she posed the question. Before reporting the children's responses the writer offered several "tips" on getting the kiddies to eat their veggies. The moment I read the question my answer came to mind. But first the children.
Kaiye, age 10, said, "Broccoli raw with Ranch dip. Green is my favorite color and broccoli is green.
Paul, age 8: "My favorite vegetable is apples. I eat them raw. I really like the flavor of apples.
Eric, age 9 said, "I like carrots because my parents said they are really good for your eyes. I like carrots raw or cooked."
McKae, age 10 replied, "Carrots are my favorite vegetable. I don't like any other vegetables. I eat carrots raw or cooked. "
Maelee, age 10: " I really like the flavor of carrots. I like to eat them raw."
Now Me, age ancient: Potatoes. My guess is that potatoes are the favorite vegetables of more than seventy percent of the American people, young and old. But they are so commonplace, so ubiquitous, so served at every meal that people don't think of them as vegetables.
Baked, boiled, fried, mashed, hashed, in the soup, in the goop, scalloped, Au gratin, so long as they are not rotten, french fries, potato chips, smack your lips.
And yet these youngsters picked broccoli (20%) and carrots (60%). I don't know what to say about the 20% who said apples. But I like apples, too. My guess is that in a cold survey among people who have not read my little article that while the favorite for more than 70% really is potato, fewer than 5% would answer "potato."
I think we become so accustomed to our preferences that we sometimes jump the rails when confronted with a head-on question regarding them. And I'd bet McKae eats french fries.
As nearly as I can determine from my extensive (three-minute) research, the potato is, in fact, the number one vegetable in the United States by consumption. The tomato is second, thanks to a government fiat declaring it a vegetable and primarily, I suspect, due to the enormous consumption of pizza in America.