Big Government takes on Mr. Potato Head

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What to say of the humble potato? Beneath its skin is potassium, vitamin C, fiber, B vitamins, Thiamin, Niacin, Riboflavin, Folate, B6, fiber, and a full complement of eight essential amino acids. It’s also among the cheapest items in any grocery store. So why has the potato been made a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “10 Least Wanted List” for school menus?

If a USDA proposal to limit starchy vegetables on school lunch menus passes, the stalwart tuber will be the first to go. The proposal would eliminate the “white potato” — any variety except the sweet potato — from federally subsidized school breakfasts and severely limit them at lunch. In a statement to the Senate in March, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack explained that the agency wants to move away from the “fried nature” of the potato’s typical preparation.

Thankfully, there has already been plenty of sensible outcry in response to the USDA’s nonsensical proposal. Among these is an incisive piece by ACSH advisor Greg Conko in Open Market, the Competitive Enterprise Institute blog. After reading Conko’s convincing defense of the potato, ACSH’s Jody Manley wondered, “So, Comrade Vilsack, what are you folks at the USDA thinking — trying to get rid of this delicious, nutritious, and cheap vegetable?”