potato 23 - Maine Senator Praises the Health Value of White PotatoesBecause of the low-carb craze of the late ’90s and early 2000’s, many people still think white potatoes are evil and should be avoided at all costs. However, when prepared healthfully (aka not fried or smothered in cheese), they can actually be a great addition to a meal, offering up nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, especially if you leave the skin on.

At a recent Senate meeting, Maine senator Susan Collins made a case for the white potato (a major crop in the state), urging Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to put it on the new list of fruits and vegetables participants in a federal nutrition program are to be encouraged to eat. She compared a bag of potatoes to a head of iceberg lettuce to illustrate her point that the scorned starchy vegetable should not be overlooked.

While it’s important to take a step back and remember that a politician pushing anything has an agenda (more potatoes sold=more money to the state they’re grown in), it does bring up a good point that a lot of the dietary value of a particular food has to do with preparation.

That said, do you really trust the government to ensure healthy preparation of potatoes in federal food programs? Personally, I don’t. That probably sounds pretty cynical, but when you consider how “easy” and popular French fries are, it would be a really hard habit to break. Yes, roasted potatoes and baked potatoes and using potatoes in place of cream in soups are also very simple, healthy preparations, some education on these and other healthy potato dishes may be required.

I also have to admit something—yesterday and today, I’ve felt a bit like a jerk, talking about food and nutrition while Japan is dealing with some serious sh*t. If you have a second, please visit the American Red Cross for information on how you can help. I also heard about a great virtual 5K fundraiser for New Zealand (which suffered an earthquake on February 22) on Kath’s blog. Please check these out or keep those affected in your thoughts.

I’m heading up to Massachusetts this afternoon for a bridal shower, so hopefully I’ll have some more cheerful posts and pictures to share with you soon  : )

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