April 2019

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Spudman • April 2019 43 Q&A WITH Alexandra Grimm Spudman7 KNOW SOMEONE WHO SHOULD BE FEATURED? Email Zeke Jennings at [email protected] or call 616-520-2159 For many, tomato soup and grilled cheese represents the ultimate in under-the-weather comfort food from their childhood. For Alexandra Grimm, that special food is mashed potatoes. Growing up in Nicaragua, whenever Grimm wasn't feeling well, her mother made her mashed potatoes and that holds a special memory for her. It's been nearly a year since Grimm took over as the executive director of the Empire State Potato Growers. Grimm and her team is busy getting ready for the organization's annual summer show, Empire Farm Days. They have something special in the works. 2 What attracted you to the job with ESPG? I had been in the potato industry for 15-plus years working at Potatoes USA. When the job opened up at ESPG, I thought it was a great next step for me career- wise, as well as the opportunity to stay working in this industry that I love so much and I would still get to work with growers. 1 Could you share a little about your background? I was born in Nicaragua and was there until the age of 7. We moved to New Orleans and when I was 14, then to Colorado where I had been until nine months ago when I moved to New York to take this position. 3 What was the most surprising thing you learned about potatoes once you became par t of the industry? I knew very little about potatoes. The most surprising thing I learned is that thvere are so many varieties of potatoes and that each variety is grown for a certain sector/type (frozen, fresh, chip, seed, dehy). When I was just a consumer, I thought a potato was just a potato, but there are so much more! 4 What is the biggest challenge facing the New York potato industry? The biggest issue facing the New York potato industry and the industry in general is the labor/ immigration issues. On a national level, it is trade and tariffs — we need to be able to export. As long as the tariff issues continue, we will not be able to compete with other countries. 5 Empire Farm Days is se t for Aug. 6-8. How's the show shaping up? We are still in the planning stages so we do not have anything concrete that we can share, but our vision is to grow the show by keeping up with the industry trends and bringing in other types of agriculture platforms, such as hemp. We are working with Cornell since this is a new initiative for New York and it is the next big thing in agriculture. 6 What is your favorite way to eat potatoes? That's a tough question since I like eating potatoes in all sorts of ways depending on the time of year. I would have to say that mashed potatoes are my go-to. Ever since I was a little girl, whenever I was not feeling well or I had a bad day, my mom would make me mashed potatoes, so mashed is my all time favorite comfort food. 7 What do you enjoy doing outside of work? I love reading in the winter when it is too cold to be outside. But in the summer time you will find me outside enjoying the warmth and sunshine. I love going for long walks/hikes and listening to music.

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