I’m often reminded that if something exists, there is someone who will hold a strong passion for it. For me it’s always been music. Even before I started singing I was drawn to all forms of music. For others, their passion may be Astrology, the Environment or as I’ve recently found out, Potatoes!
That’s right, a couple weeks ago I attended an event at McCain Headquarters in Toronto to kick off a year-long partnership where I will be learning the ins and outs of how McCain potato products go from #FarmToFork! I admit that I had no idea what to expect when I walked into the McCain boardroom but I can tell you that what I left with was a new appreciation for not only their products but also for potatoes themselves and the farmers who grow them.
I’m not sure where to start in describing my experience with McCain but I wish that everyone could hear McCain Foods Agriculture Manager, Eric Ritchie, speak about his passion for potatoes. He knew more about potatoes than I know about my own family and it was infectious to hear him speak about the goodness of the potato. In fact, the whole McCain story really resonated with me as it is deeply rooted in Canadian family values, having been a family owned, Canadian company for 60 years now.
As a little peek behind the blogging curtain, I took so many notes at the event that I’ve been staring at my notebook for the last hour trying to decide how I’m going to share all this information with you, and because I think all of it is important and eye-opening, I’ve decided not to cut anything. Here is the full list of my takeaways from my time with the McCain Foods team.
Working together, family to family
– The family values run deep at McCain Foods and nowhere is this more evident than the fact that 10 of their growers have been with the company for over 55 years. It’s loyalty and family all rolled into one.
– McCain Foods is the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen French fries and potato specialties. I could have guessed that they were Canada’s largest producer but was surprised to hear they were a world leader. Go Canada! When Eric described the size of the warehouse where the potatoes were stored, I immediately pictured the farmers diving into them like Scrooge McDuck in his money vault. Give me a break, I have young children who love cartoons!
Farmers and their potatoes; simple ingredients, simply prepared
– The simplicity of the food process is as easy as wash, peel, cut, cook and freeze. Delicious food you can trust and feel comfortable serving to your family. On top of that, McCain takes their potatoes so seriously they even created the Potato Technology Centre in Florenceville, New Brunswick to provide ongoing research and ensure McCain continues to deliver the best quality products.
– One of my favourite parts of the presentation was when the question of food waste came up. I have seen documentaries that discussed what farmers are forced to do with food that does not look perfect, so I was pleasantly surprised when Eric described how McCain works in that regard. He pulled out a bag of what would be considered “less desirable” potatoes and cut them open to demonstrate how while McCain discards any rotten or damaged portions of the potato, they make a concerted effort to use as much as possible of every potato harvested.
The Power Vegetable!
– That brings us to the most important part of the potato. Its nutritional value is off the charts! The great thing about the potato is that it gives you excellent coverage in multiple categories including vitamin B6, potassium, fiber and vitamin C. Obviously this only really works if you are not adding a ton of grease, sour cream or butter and the good news from McCain is that all of their frozen grocery potato products are trans fat-free and many are low in saturated fat and sodium! Potatoes may not look exciting to you but recognizing the goodness of the potato can benefit all of us.
After the boardroom session we were treated to a buffet of different McCain potato products and after learning all I had just learned about potatoes, I may have eaten double what I normally would… Before I get out of here, I’m going to share a few of my family’s favourite McCain products but want to hear in the comments which ones you guys buy the most! Here’s our list!
McCain Spicy Lattice Cut Fries
These are daddy’s #1 choice of McCain fries and I will occasionally even eat them as a main course. The kids are still coming around in the spicy foods department but I’m happy to eat what they leave behind on their plates.
McCain Superfries Crinkle Cut Fries
This is a staple that has been in my family since I was a little boy and my kids love them as much as I did. Oh, and did I mention that they are Trans Fat-Free, Cholesterol- Free, Low in Saturated Fat? Yeah, we are big fans of the Crinkle Cuts in our house!
McCain Breakfast Potato Pancakes
Nothing against Homefries as we love them too, but there’s something about the Potato Pancakes that have us gravitating towards them whenever we are at the grocery store. We also add some of our own seasoning to them after they bake to give them some extra kick!
Confession. I actually called these Smilies for the longest time before my kids corrected me. The Smiles were actually how we introduced the kids to French fries because the kids loved the fact that there were smiley faces on their plates. In fact, we still serve them today because who couldn’t use more smiling in their lives?
As mentioned earlier, this is the beginning of a year long partnership between my family and McCain Canada and I can’t wait to share our adventures with you. Later this year I’ll be visiting multiple farms to observe the harvesting process and to see how everything is put together from start to finish. In the meantime please feel free to leave a comment here or on the Canadian Dad Facebook page to let me know your family’s favourite McCain products and also what you are most passionate about!
This post is sponsored by McCain, as part of our #FarmtoFork partnership. The opinions on this blog, as always, are my own.