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National Tater Day

Tater. Tuber. Spud. These are some of the names given to the potato, which is celebrated today, on National Tater Day. The holiday may have sprouted up on account of Tater Day, which has been held in Benton, Kentucky, during the first week of April since 1843. Another holiday that may have sprouted up from Kentucky's Tater Day is Sweet Potato Day—which also is known as Tater Day—which is celebrated on the first Monday in April.

Potatoes are plentiful, cheap, and versatile. There are many kinds, with russet, red, yellow, white, and purple being some of the most common of the 4,000 or so varieties. Sweet potatoes technically are not potatoes but are related to them. Potatoes were domesticated in the Andes Mountains in South America thousands of years ago. They made their way to Europe by way of Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century. Idaho is the largest producer of potatoes in the United States, growing about a third of them.

More often than not, potatoes are used to make side dishes, but they can be the focus of the main dish. They can be used to make tater tots, french fries, potato chips, potato pancakes, potato salad, hash browns, scalloped potatoes, and mashed potatoes. They can be baked—and then sometimes loaded and stuffed—roasted, grilled, steamed, or boiled. They can be used in soups, stews, and casseroles.

Potatoes contain many nutrients that make them a healthy food to eat, as long as they are prepared in a nutritious manner and not paired with unhealthy foods. For example, plain baked potatoes are much more nutritious than french fries or potato chips, which are fried in oil. The skin is the most nutrient-dense part of the potato. Potatoes contain antioxidants, phytochemicals, and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, choline, zinc, and potassium. They are high in fiber and low in sodium. Potatoes are high in carbohydrates, which is the one reason why they shouldn't be overindulged in.

Because of their nutritional content, potatoes provide numerous health benefits. They support bone health, healthy blood pressure, and heart health; they have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties; they promote digestive health, skin health, and weight management; they regulate the metabolism and strengthen the immune system. With so many health benefits and ways potatoes can be prepared, it's not too difficult to find a reason to celebrate National Tater Day.

How to Observe National Tater Day

Celebrate the day by eating some taters! You could pick a recipe and make something or find a restaurant that serves your favorite potato dish. If you want to be self-sufficient and always have potatoes at your fingertips, try growing your own. You could deepen your knowledge of potatoes by reading about some of the different varieties or by visiting a potato museum such as the Idaho Potato Museum or The Potato Museum, which is online only. If you still aren't completely tatered out, get yourself a Mr. Potato Head to toy with.

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