Out With Spuds
The USDA is asking the question: Will cutting out white potatoes make school children healthier?
Starch-heavy corn and peas are also in danger of being cut in favor of leafy greens and orange vegetables, like the other spud: sweet potato.
The National Potato Council is fighting back… hard.
According to John Keeling, the council’s CEO, there may be unhealthy ways to prepare potatoes, but there are no inherently bad fruits or vegetables. He also expresses concern about the effect this decision could have on the potato industry’s bottom line. “When you force a limit on potatoes… you drive the cost up, you reduce the flexibility of the schools, you take away a vegetable that kids like, and you run the risk of… delivering less nutrition.”
The council is even going so far as to say that potatoes are “gateway vegetables” that could eventually lead kids to other foods like carrots or spinach.
Researchers have found that the potato has sixty different beneficial compounds in varying amounts in both the flesh and skin of different strains of potatoes.
The USDA’s new school lunch guidelines say that saturated fat, sugar and sodium have to be lowered while whole grains, fruits and vegetables need to be increased.
There are also set maximum calories per lunch:
- Grade K-5 – 650 calories
- Grade 6-8 – 700 calories
- Grade 9-12 – 850 calories
The new guidelines must be implemented in schools by 2012.