The team at the Cowboy Lifestyle Network recently had the opportunity to talk with Ak-Chin Farms Manager Steve Coester who shared with us some of the important and interesting facts about the potato washing plant and its harvest. The Ak-Chin Indian Community Potato Washing Plant has been fully operational since 2012. In the past, the Community shared a plant with other growers about 10 miles away from the current farm. Although all the other farmers withdrew from growing potatoes, the Ak-Chin Indian Community continued to produce potatoes for well-known companies such as Frito Lay, Barrel O’ Fun and Poore Brothers.
The potato harvest usually begins in the middle of May and is completed around the 4th of July. After the potatoes are harvested, they get delivered to the potato washing facility and go through a rough sorter where dirt clods and additional trash, such as roots and leaves, are shaken off the potatoes. After that, they are separated and put through a flume that they tumble through and remaining dirt is washed off the potatoes. At this time, any additional trash and/or bad potatoes are then hand-picked out of the bunch on the sorting table. Lastly, they are placed into large bins and are loaded directly into the semi-trucks to be delivered to various potato chip plants across the Southwest.
The Ak-Chin Indian Community takes pride in the type of potatoes they harvest, which are referred to as “chipping potatoes.” The potatoes are round and white, and developed with less starch and sugar than the average spud. The potato chip does not turn brown but instead, remains pure white, indicating the minuscule amounts of starch and sugar. The Ak-Chin Indian Community believes that the round shape of their potato makes a better chip. Next time you are eating one of your favorite Frito Lay, Barrel O’ Fun or Poore Brothers potato chips, it might have come from the Ak-Chin Indian Community here in Arizona.
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