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Resolution to recognize potato as official Oregon vegetable packs a peel

Potatoes in large wicker basket.
Brian Bull
In the grand scheme of things, there are no "small potatoes", especially when determining the official state vegetable.

The Oregon Senate hashed out a decision Wednesday that may have taken the starch out of some lawmakers: a resolution to recognize the potato as the official state vegetable.

Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, is one of the sponsors of Senate Concurrent Resolution 3. In a passionate – one might say spudtacular – display, Hansell sang the potato’s praises while holding what appeared to be a brown russet in the Senate chamber.

State senator Bill Hansell pointing to potato.
Screen capture from Senate feed on Oregon Legislative website.
"All eyes on me!" the potato seems to say, as Oregon state senator Bill Hansell asks his fellow lawmakers: "Tuber or not tuber? That is the question."

“Twenty-five percent of Oregon’s frozen french fries are shipped overseas," said Hansell. "Oregon potato farmers have donated over one million pounds of potatoes annually to the Oregon food bank. And lastly, the iconic tater tot – was developed by two brothers in Ontario, Oregon, who also created the Ore-Ida potato company. No other state can claim the tater tot as their own.”

Other lawmakers praised the potato’s part in making lefse or vodka. With no fiscal or revenue impact, enacting this proposal would be done on a shoestring budget.

The resolution passed 29-0 and now heads to the Oregon House, where Hansell seems content to let the chips fall where they may.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.