USDA Takes Potatoes Off The Menu

By: Dylan Rodgers

There are few foods as remarkable as the potato.  Though little and mal-shaped, potatoes have been quintessential to the development of numerous civilizations living in inhospitable conditions.  But now the potato is slowly being weeded out of American health standards.

High atop the Andes Mountain range, people depend on the potato almost entirely.  For nearly 8000 years, native South Americans have relied on their duo of nutrition:  the potato and maize.  Aside from a little guinea pig meat here and there, the ancient Inca owe their survival to the versatility and durability of the potato.

Around 1532, once the Spanish conquistadors began to 'Christianize' the Americas, they 'discovered' the potato.  According to some historians, the spuds induction into European diets was a key factor that boosted European population during the industrial era.

The point of all this history is to show how the potato has done nothing except help populations grow, eat healthier, and survive some of the most agriculturally disastrous conditions known on the planet.  And now the USDA is reducing its recommended consumption of potatoes and grains to next to nothing?  What did the potato do to deserve such malice?

The most average way Americans eat potatoes is in little fried golden sticks in mass, salty quantities.  Most every school lunch features French... sorry, Freedom Fries as the only potato choice available.  Childhood obesity and its matured, adult version are the USDA's main concern these days.   So instead of educating the public and forcing schools to practice healthy cooking techniques (like baking), they have decided to simply throw the potato out of a healthy diet.

Considering what the spud has done for us in the past, let's not be so hasty.  Instead let's think of how everything would be different if the ancient South Americans and not-so-ancient-but-still-old Europeans had consumed only French fries rather than baked potatoes.  In short, the Inca would have been long gone before the Spanish ever arrived due to a culture-wide cardiac arrest.

If the USDA enacts this change, potato farmers will suffer from low sales, school lunch programs will be forced to find more expensive alternatives, and we as a nation will continue to blame inanimate objects for the sad results of our unhealthy cooking habits.  By this logic, deep fried broccoli is more nutritious than a baked potato rich in vitamin A, B, C, and fiber.  The USDA, being the main source of nutritional information for the public, should have taken this chance to deal with obesity and its causes instead of ostracizing an innocent tuberous crop.

Photo: Susy Morris