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February 20. 2013 10:34PM

Will potato be New Hampshire's official vegetable?


From the seed of an idea planted by Derry Village School students, legislation declaring the potato as New Hampshire's state vegetable passed the House on Wednesday. 

CONCORD - The humble potato could take its place among other official state things if the Senate goes along with the House.

The House voted 276-75 Wednesday to approve House Bill 535, which makes the white potato the state vegetable.

The bill had its genesis at the Derry Village School, where students researched the origins of the white potato in North America and found it was first planted in a field near the school in 1719, in what was known then as Nutfield.

Students from the school were in the House gallery during the debate on the bill.

Rep. James Parison, R-New Ipswich, said broccoli should hold the distinction of being the state vegetable.

"Making the white potato the official state vegetable sends a bad message to our children who should grow up knowing good food should be dark green and taste terrible," Parison said.

The bill's prime sponsor Rep. John O'Connor, R-Derry, said the Rev. James MacGregor of Northern Ireland came to America with a bag of seed potatoes and planted them in Derry.

Virginia had claimed the title of first state to plant potatoes in North America, but recently conceded that New Hampshire holds the distinction, O'Connor said.

And he noted Derry's historian will travel to Londonderry, Northern Ireland, in July for a British television program on MacGregor's travels with his potato seedlings.

grayno@unionleader.com


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