In May, the USDA proposed eliminating white potatoes from all federally subsidized school breakfasts and limiting students to one cup of starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn, green peas, and lima beans) per week, in favor of leafy greens and other, "healthier" foods.
Naturally, the National Potato Council went positively apes**t and launched an all-out offensive to defend the potato's honor -- as well as the incomes of all the potato farmers the Council represents.
Beginning with a reminder that "kids love potatoes and schools love to serve them," the Potato Council took a swipe at the competition:
"One serving of a baked potato, at just 138 calories, is an excellent source of potassium -- far more than a banana. It’s also a good source of fiber -- more than a serving of broccoli."
John Keeling, the council's CEO, told ABC News that "There may be preparations that are better than others, but there are no bad fruits or vegetables."
And potato-friendly politicians were at their breaking points, as well.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine -- a state that produced roughly 6% of the nation's potatoes last year -- challenged the USDA at a March hearing, saying, "One medium white potato has nearly twice as much vitamin C as an entire head of iceberg lettuce. My question, Mr. Secretary, is what does the department have against potatoes?"
Challenge: issued. And -- was there even any question?? -- the National Potato Council has emerged victorious!
Reports NPR's April Fulton:
Last night, potato champion Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, declared victory when she announced that the Senate agreed to tell USDA to hold off on potato limits for a year.
Friends, Americans, friendly Americans who enjoy the occasional potato -- victory is ours. And it smells like fries.
As Stephen Colbert put it so succinctly, this hasn't been a mere "attack on our bellies." No, this has been an unrelenting attack "on the great American school lunch tradition of a tray full of fried Tater Tots."
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