Leafy Green Potatoes

I love potatoes as much as anyone out there. In fact, Kelly and I have four different varieties awaiting harvest in the garden as I write this. But I’m not sure I’d call potatoes a vegetable in the leafy green, all-you-can-eat, unquestionably healthy sense.

Neither, as it turns out, would Michelle Obama, who has been working to change the nutrition guidelines for school lunches. Predictably enough, the potato industry was none too pleased at proposals last year to limit school lunch servings of the popular starch. As with most political issues these days, science and reason seem to be taking a backseat to lobbyist agendas and profits.

The final version of the new rules for government-subsidized school lunches lifts limitations on potato servings, as well as allowing tomato paste to count as a vegetable serving. Hmmm.

But removing the proposed restrictions from the final draft wasn’t enough for the potato industry. I got a good laugh out of a New York Times quote from Mark Szymanski, a spokesman for the National Potato Council. Said Szymanski, “We still feel like the potato is being downplayed in favor of other vegetables in the new guidelines.” He went on to complain that potatoes are being pegged as “second-class vegetables.”

News like this makes me question whether attempting to effect change in the US is a worthwhile endeavor. Perhaps it’s time for me to pick up shop and go grow potatoes (and other real vegetables) in Canada.

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