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Chef Michael Smith on the set of a Half Your Plate video. Photo: Culinart Limited.

Michael Smith Promotes Potatoes

The famous Canadian chef is standing up for spuds in a Twitter party to be held May 26.

Michael Smith loves potatoes, and he’s reaching out on social media May 26 at 9.m. Eastern Time to let the whole world know.

The internationally renowned chef is starring in two potato-related videos that are among a series of 10 videos produced for the Half Your Plate campaign to promote eating more fruits and vegetables by filling half your plate with these food items. The first of them is being released this week with an exclusive Twitter party that Smith will take part in.Smith is promoting how easy it is to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies on the Twitter party promoted by Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA).

Living and working in Prince Edward Island might have something to do with Smith’s love for spuds, but there’s more to his potato passion than just where he resides.

Smith knows how delicious and healthy potatoes are. He and his family eat them on a regular basis, and Smith says he wants other Canadian families to do the same. That’s why he’s starring in the short online videos that are part of the promotional program designed to show the public how easy it is to incorporate fruits and veggies into every meal.

The Half Your Plate campaign is sponsored by the CPMA in partnership with the Canadian Public Health Association, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

A video featuring Red and Yellow Potato Hash was financed by the Marketing and Promotion Working Group of the Canadian Potato Council as well as the United Potato Growers of Canada. Another video featuring Celery Potato Salad was financed by Duda Farm Fresh Foods.

“There’s a pervasive idea that’s seeped into our discourse that somehow potatoes are bad for us, that they’re not a good vegetable. I strongly disagree,” Smith says.

“Potatoes themselves are nutrient-dense. They are a healthy vegetable, and it falls to people like me to pass that message on. Sure, if you’re eating french fries every day, or potatoes are the only vegetable in your diet, it becomes a problem. But it’s not the potato’s fault. This is a terrific vegetable, and we should be eating it.”

Smith is well-known in Canada for being the host of Chef Michael’s Kitchen, Chef Abroad and Chef at Home seen here in Canada on Food Network Canada and Global TV as well as in more than 100 other countries. He’s a judge on Chopped Canada and travelled the world for his new web series Lentil Hunter.

Smith and his wife recently realized a long-held dream and purchased The Inn at Bay Fortune in Prince Edward Island, a five-star country inn. All the vegetables used in the food there are grown on the premises.

Among them? A dozen different varieties of potatoes.

“I use potatoes in my food all the time, both at work and at home. I routinely feed my kids potatoes. There’s nothing better than a plain baked potato hot out of the oven, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Smith says.

“I often roast potatoes for the kids. It’s the original convenience food. There’s nothing easier than hacking a potato into a pieces, tossing it with some salt, pepper and olive oil and just shoving it in the oven.”

When the opportunity came to take part in the 10 Half Your Plate videos, Smith jumped at it.

“I’ve been lamenting for 20 years how little we spend on marketing fruits and vegetables in North America. Less than one-tenth of one per cent of the money spent on marketing food in North America goes to marketing fruits and vegetables,” he says. “The Half Your Plate campaign is helping change that.”

Defending the Potato

Kendra Mills, head of the Canadian Potato Council’s Promotion and Marketing Working Group, said having a chance to be a part of a video that both promotes potatoes and features Smith was a no-brainer.

“When we first approached him as being the ambassador for this, he was great and it’s gone so well because of the way he works. He ran with it,” Mills says.

The production of the Half Your Plate potato videos follows the successful completion of a national potato promotion campaign in Chatelaine and Today’s Parent magazines and websites in 2015.

“That media campaign talked about the health of potatoes and featured recipes as well. We know there’s been a decline in potato consumption and the onus is on us to work on that,” she says. “That campaign made sense in educating consumers on how healthy potatoes really are, and these videos with Chef Smith are going to continue that momentum.”

One of Smith’s videos features red and yellow potatoes used to make a simple hash — then the chef takes the hash and bakes an egg in it.

“That’s a full meal right there,” Smith says. “Once you make that hash, it’s easy to work other garden vegetables into it. The goal is to show people how easy it is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.”

Statistics Canada reported that in 2011 only 40 per cent of Canadians aged 12 and older consumed fruit and vegetables five or more times per day. Consumption rose gradually from 2001-2009, where it peaked at 45 per cent of the population reaching the level of five or more daily servings, but it has been on the decline since then. It’s a situation that Smith is concerned about.

“I’m shocked when I go into classrooms and talk to kids in third, fourth or fifth grade who never eat fruits and vegetables, ever. There’s so much science that proves that we have to move past processed food and teach our kids that fruits and vegetable are a natural, everyday part of what life is.”

Potatoes are a part of that, Mills adds, and is happy to see the videos being featured on halfyourplate.ca.

“Potatoes are the No. 1 consumed vegetable in Canada and Michael really helped us showcase that fact to a wide audience. He has such a huge following and is a great ambassador for Half Your Plate,” she says.

twitterparty

To take part in the Twitter party on May 26, simply use the hashtag #HalfYourPlate. To be eligible to win a prize, visit ow.ly/nAbh300x9xs to register.

 

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