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U.S. Government Declares War On Potatoes

May 17, 2011

Disclaimer:  I love potatoes.  Always have, always will. There is hardly a day that goes by without potatoes in my diet   When I can’t locate real mashed potatoes in restaurants I get snarly.  As a kid whipped mashed potatoes were the first thing  my mom would start my stomach on after a harsh bout of the flu.  I recall at the Montgomery Ward store in Stevens Point one of the older workers telling my mom about the perfect way to make homemade potato soup.  On a cold winter night is there a more perfect comfort food than cheesy potatoes?  In countless ways the potato remains a true gem in the kitchen, and a delight on any table.

Which leads me to the war on this vegetable from my own government!

When I read this article today I was sure the world turned upside down at some point and I was just not informed.  While I understand there is an anti-carb mood among many in the nation, and there should be less fried foods (french fries) in our diet, there is still a  most unsettled feeling I get from this story.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to eliminate the “white potato”—defined as any variety but the sweet potato—from federally subsidized school breakfasts and to limit them sharply at lunch.

Messing with a stalwart like the spud doesn’t go well with the potato industry, school cafeteria directors and legislators from potato-growing regions. They’re fighting to see that in schools, no potato is left behind.

The proposed change is part of a push to make school meals healthier, with more nutrient-rich vegetables and fewer French fries. Under the USDA proposal, school cafeterias would have to limit starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, peas and lima beans to a total of one cup per week for lunch.

Last year, the government said participants in the USDA’s program for low-income pregnant women and their children couldn’t use federal money to buy white potatoes. The Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, made the recommendation, arguing most people already eat enough potatoes and should be encouraged to eat other vegetables.

The white potato was the only veggie excluded, a slight that so infuriated the head of the Washington State Potato Commission that he went on a 60-day, all-potato diet to illustrate that the spud is wholesome.

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