January 9, 2003

I am translating an article about ecologically healthy farming from German for a friend of mine who works for a textbook publishing company. Now, I first learned German from singing a lot of Schubert and Bach; I studied subsequently at college and in Berlin, but my German (and, for that matter, my French and my Italian) has always been at its best with texts about broken-hearted lovers and the comfort the tender soul receives after death. So you can imagine my dismay when confronted with things like this:

The cattle’s position as consumer of field grasses and producer of fertilizer is the basis for a far-reaching, closed nutrient cycle.

The reason I am blogging about this, however, is that the article mentions, I swear to God, an annual Organic Potato Day.

It’s on July 16.

My new goal in life is to make Organic Potato Day a national holiday.

The only question is figuring out how to market it in our consumer culture. I mean, it’s not a holiday if they can’t sell things, right? I suppose Whitman’s could make little chocolate potatoes, but how would they make it clear that they’re chocolate organic potatoes and not just chocolate regular potatoes? Chocolate is a magical substance that can work all manner of wonders, but depicting the absence of carcinogenic pesticides might be beyond even its considerable powers.

Perhaps the answer to the marketing issue is to create a mascot, like the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. Of course Mr. Potato Head is the first thing that occurs to me, but that seems far too obvious. Maybe he should be a negative mascot, like Mr. Yuk or the evil genius in the dishwashing powder commercial in the late 70s (his moniker escapes me at the moment) who left glasses streaky until a savvy housewife used Cascade to flush him down the dishwasher drain. For Organic Potato Day we can have the DDT Monster and his evil but bumbling sidekick, the Potato Aphid. Starting weeks before Organic Potato Day, stores can sell organic-potato-growing kits. The kits themselves can vary in ornateness and therefore in price—sterling silver pots for rich kids, clay ones for middle class kids, and ugly plastic ones for poor kids. When the day arrives, children can put the potatoes they’ve grown in all the windows of their houses as talismans to prevent the DDT Monster and the Potato Aphid from getting in and destroying the potato crops and giving everybody cancer and birth defects. Then, in the morning, assuming the potato crops have made it through the night and nobody has gotten cancer or birth defects, families can celebrate by frying up the potatoes into yummy organic latkes.

Clearly I am onto something here.

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4 Responses to I am translating an article

  1. Owl says:

    But what about the poor little kids with brown thumbs who can’t keep anything alive? Their potato plants won’t grow. Imagine the horror they will go through on Organic Potato Day Eve thinking that the DDT Monster and Potato Aphid will get to them in the middle of the night and give them cancer and birth defects. There must be a toll free emergency hotline that people can call to have potato plants delivered last minute to their house in case an event like this occurs.

  2. elisabeth says:

    Oh my god, I nearly choked on my latte. You crack me up!

  3. Phil says:

    You could always try to market Organic Potato Day as ethnic holiday, like Kawanza only for the Irish

  4. Stephanie says:

    Oh dear, that’s my dad’s birthday. Hm.


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