12.7.06

What's on YOUR potatoes?


The University of Oregon's paper, The Daily Emerald, released this story this morning: UO uses dishwasher on potatoes. Apparently, the kitchen that supplies the dorms with the potatoes washes them in the dishwasher with the same detergent that they use to wash the pots and pans, called "Solid Insure," before preparing them for consumption...all of this unbeknownst to the innocent freshmen who have been away from their mother's kitchen for mere months or up to a year and eating at the dorm cafeterias. Poor freshmen.

The story goes on to say the anonymous employee who alleged that this was occuring asked the head chef about the practice, and he stated: "We've been doing it this way for years and it's a very common practice ... if it doesn't hurt the pots and pans it doesn't hurt the food.' Ick! What kind of a chef would say that?

I'm assuming (um, hoping) that this will go up for investigation and will be stopped. While the amount of detergent that may end up in the potatoes is minimal, I know I wouldn't dream of sticking my own potatoes in my dishwasher, even when I use environmentally friendly, biodegradable detergent. It's bad enough that there are probably pesticides used to grow all of the food that makes it into the school kitchens, no need to add more chemicals once they're there! Another line in the article that added insult to the whole thing and made me cringe was that the potatoes came out of the dishwasher partially cooked, due to the hot water. EW. Who wants potatoes cooked in a dishwasher? Not me. And you can guarantee the head chef doesn't cook his potatoes in his own dishwasher at home, either...

But, when you're a slave to the dorm kitchen, what's a freshman to do? Especially if mom and dad already paid the bill for the cafeteria and you don't have steady job? Bummer. Perhaps its a rite we are all fated to endure...

I know when I was living in the dorms during my own freshman year in college, there were rumers about how the cafeteria used government "Grade D" meat and the ingredients in the salad bar were used over and over until some poor starving, or non-observant, sap finally consumed them, regardless of how slimy they got (although the meat was definitely not of highest quality, and I avoided it most of the time, I can vouch that the salad bar was quite sketchy). I think that's why I lived primarily on the vegetarian chili (though I am not a vegetarian) and usually only ate what I thought I could stomach...which also included making our own Rice Krispy treats by melting large marshmallows with butter, adding a bit of the rice cereal and then mix, mix, mixing until the delicious treat emerged. Not exactly mom's, and not exactly healthy, but it sure tasted a lot better than a slimy salad bar, preservatives and unidentifiable ingredient list or not!

Truly, though, this is an outrage. The people out there who don't think it is, or don't find it a "big deal," obviously don't care much about their food or what goes into their bodies...and at the very least - would they truly choose to eat potatoes cooked in a dishwasher?

Oven-roasted, dishwasher detergent-free, organic parsley potatoes, anyone?

15 comments from you:

Natalia said...

Ick! That is disgusting! Dorm food is some kind of crime against nature. I mostly lived on cereal, bagels, and peanut butter sandwiches instead of the stuff they "prepared." Our dorm kitchen was the size of a small closet and was more disgusting than the showeres, so cooking your own food wasn't too appealing either. Dark times, dark times.

cookiecrumb said...

I'm sorry, that is so sad, and yet I'm LMAO. Why do they even bother wasting the detergent??
The silly thing is how the taters come out half cooked...
(You are familiar with, I presume, the recipe for foil-wrapped salmon cooked in the dishwasher? No soap.)

ilva said...

Dishwasher detergent is supposed to be one of the more dangerous detergents to eat at least when it comes to kids. And I know for sure that residues of the normal detergent for plates can cause stomach problems so I think they are criminal!

Tea said...

When I was in college we had mashed potatoes in the dining hall every week or so. One day I went in to dinner and the potatoes, which were always fluffy white, where brownish grey instead. I asked the staff what was wrong with the mashed potatoes and they told me: "this week we used real potatoes."

At that point I wasn't aware that such a thing as potato flakes existed-but at least they weren't cooked in the dishwasher!

But reading this post I am reconsidering the wisdom of my dining hall. Perhaps the fact that everything was deep friend had a purpose--that hot oil has got to kill most anything that would be bad for you:-)

vlb5757 said...

I think that is a practice that only that chef uses. It's against any health regulations we have here and I bet any amount of money it's not something the health department there would approve of either. Besides, how lazy do you have to be to run potatoes through a dishwasher instead of putting them in a bowl under cold running water? This person who did this, needs to take a food safety course and then be mopping floors from now on. ECK!

Jodie said...

This makes me very glad that I'm not an undergrad at UO but a grad student. Although, it does make me wonder what they did in Arizona, which is a state that proabably cares less.

My boyfriend just told me about your blog. Were fellow Eugeneites. I'm really enjoying reading it, and can't wait to find some good recipes.

Nerissa said...

oh my god! that's very very shocking! I can't wait to see Frog's face when I tell him about it LOL

michelle said...

Natalia, so that's your name! That's a really pretty name, too. Much more interesting than "Michelle!" I lived off a lot of PB and J too and avoided most of the "main courses" in the cafeteria. I can only imagine how gross any dorm kitchen could be...maybe we were actually lucky NOT having one!

Cookie, it is oddly funny, in a sick sort of way - they didn't waste the detergent though, they stick the spuds in with the dirty pots and pans so they can clean them all at once!! Hmmm... dishwasher salmon...I want to see you post about that one!!

Ilva, I've never heard that! That's even more scary! Maybe I'm glad that I grew up without a dishwasher, and never even had one until the house I'm living in now!!

Tea, Ha ha ha! That's a great story. Potato flakes are actually great for backpacking, when your food just needs to have some kind of substance to it and be light! I think maybe you're right about the deep frying...ew.

Vickie, funny you say that...apparently the chef and several of the kitchen staff have food safety certifications! The County Health regulation is checking into the allegations, thank goodness!

Hi Jodie! Thanks for visiting! It's always good to find new Eugene bloggers! I agree, I'm so glad I'm a grad student and don't have to eat at the dorms! Vickie, at the Moveable Feast Food Blog, loves knitting and spinning too, and she's got a second knitting blog. I'm curious how your boyfriend found this blog, and hope you find a recipe or two you like!

Nerissa, Just tell frog that I wasn't involved!! Are you still checking blogs in the middle of all that packing for your wonderful trip?! ;)

Kitchen Queen said...

Way back when I was at college, my school served veal really often. Before everyone gets all excited, it wasn't very good, like most of their meat.....so imagine my surprise when I went to a swank Chicago Italian restaurant and saw veal on the menu. It was the highest-priced beef on the menu too! Makes me wonder what that "veal" really was.....

Um, back on track here: Yes, big "Ewwwwwwww!" on the potatoes.

Nerissa said...

Hmmm... seems there was a misunderstanding somewhere. I'm already in France, sweetness! go to my blog to check out Day 1 lunch *s*

The frog is assured you had nothing to do with it. He just can't seem to comprehend how anybody could do that or why!!

Kate said...

Kind of reminds me of a recipe I once found but never tried: dishwasher-poached salmon. you wrap it up in foil and let the washer do the cooking...eep! even as a user of eco-friendly detergent, that seems sort of gross...what if the foil leaked? you'd have soapy salmon! ew...

michelle said...

Nerissa, um, yea, I missed that "12 hours" and the date on your post... but that cheese looks incredibly divine!!

Kate, after your comment, I had to check it out! Look at this link on the post above - hers got punctured!! EW!

paz said...

One word: Gross. ;-) I'm glad I never ate there.

Paz

Cyndi said...

I just read this to my husband, and he thought it was no big deal. Aaackk. I've heard about the poached salmon, though, and how some packages were punctured or destroyed. Yuck.

michelle said...

Hi Cyndi - that's what some of the guys in my lab said too! I don't understand it either! I completely agree about the punctured packages of salmon - YUCK - and the more I hear about it, the more I hear of people doing it while washing the dishes with SOAP. EW! Thanks for stopping by my site!