Talk of banning spuds may sound impossible in Idaho, but the federal government is proposing to do just that when it comes to school lunches.
Second graders at Shelley’s Sunrise Elementary school love their spuds.
“I like every single kind of potatoes. Mashed, fried … french fries. I love any kind,” said 8-year-old Robin Bryant.
Limits have already been placed on the federal Women, Infant and Children program. For an interim period, they cannot use federal dollars to buy the starchy carbohydrate.
While it’s rich in potassium and vitamin C, Bill Ayzin, an owner of Idaho Falls’ Wealth of Health Nutrition Center, said that’s all it is.
“The biggest problem with potatoes is a high sugar content,” he said. “An average baked potato size is equivalent to about a cup of sugar.”
Ayzin said the potential ban isn’t as much an attack on potatoes as a campaign to help kids consume more fruits and vegetables.
“Fiber. There’s a lot more nutritional content, your basic vitamins and minerals.”
Nutritional value also depends on preparation. Ayzin said one of the biggest culprits is french fries.
“Your baked potatoes and your mashed potatoes are the healthier options,” he said.
As long as they’re not topped off with heaps of butter, bacon and sour cream.
“Moderation is key. So you can absolutely use potatoes just like you would use rice or pasta. Just limit to once or twice a week. Keep the size of those potatoes smaller,” said Ayzin.
The news has angered potato growers across the country. One man in Washington has said he will undergo a potato-only diet for 60 days to prove how healthy they are.
The USDA is expected to release changes to the federal school lunch program by the end of the year.