USDA looks to limit potatoes at schools

FRESNO, Calif.

School kids have so many choices at lunch. Some healthier than others. The USDA believes it can help students cut calories by cutting down on potato servings.

Yukon Gold and Red Lasoda potato plants have started to sprout at T & D Farms in Madera county. The thought of cutting back on potatoes upset organic farmer Tom Willey. Willey said, "I think the potato is kind of being savagely attacked right now by some people with misguided notions of nutrition. Certainly as potato chips or french fries or tater tots fried in oil and highly processed it's probably not a very good food to feed our children in cafeterias."

But when freshly prepared, Willey called potatoes one of the world's most nutritious crops. Potatoes make up Willey's biggest crop. He grows 15 acres in Madera so he was quick to defend the potato's honor.

Willey called the potato a noble, high-protein vegetable. He explained, "It was domesticated in Peru 8,000 years ago and there's no report of conquistadors finding Peruvian couch potatoes laying around unable to defend themselves."

The issue has created a political hot potato with politicians from potato-producing states stepping forward. US Senator Susan Collins of Maine explained to colleagues, "One medium white potato has nearly twice as much vitamin c as this entire head of iceberg lettuce."

Late Tuesday the Senate blocked the USDA bid to limit potato use in school cafeterias.

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