Farm to Plate: St. Patrick’s Day

A potato harvester unloads potatoes into a trailor


Every March 17 across America, people don their green attire to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Originally a religious observance recognizing the patron saint of Ireland, it has grown into a celebration of all things Irish.

From Shamrock, Texas to Limerick, Maine, America’s 34.7 million Irish-American citizens (along with their friends and neighbors) will watch parades, listen to Irish music, maybe drink some green beer, and enjoy traditional Irish food.

  • Corned beef: As its name implies, this St. Patrick’s Day staple starts with beef, specifically the brisket cut that is then salt-cured. Ranchers like the Bartak family and the Medlins are among the one million U.S. beef producers who together raise 94 million head of cattle.
  • Cabbage: U.S. growers harvest more than 66,000 acres of cabbage for fresh consumption like the stewed or steamed vegetables that will fill the plate come the 17th. Growers like Pete Russell and Dick Tunnell include cabbage in their diversified produce operations.
  • Potatoes: While American potato consumption has decreased in recent years, these root vegetables are still a staple on our St. Patrick’s Day plates. Roasted, boiled, mashed or fried, potatoes are a rich source of potassium as well as delivering protein for muscle development and carbohydrates for energy. Farm Credit customer Cole Vculek raises seed potatoes that he sells to his parents who use them to grow a full crop for harvest. Ron and Lisa Blach plant potatoes some years, deciding what to plant based on market demand; Alan Sackett grows his potatoes exclusively for Lays potato chips.

Whether you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day enjoying a plate of Irish food or drinking a green beer, we encourage you to take a moment to appreciate our hardworking farmers and ranchers, and above all, stay safe!