Saturday, April 13, 2024

“Why Are Lawmakers Advocating for Potatoes to Remain Classified as a Vegetable?”

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A bipartisan group of 14 U.S. senators, including Susan Collins and Michael Bennet, have joined forces to prevent the reclassification of potatoes as a grain, advocating for their current classification as a vegetable. This initiative comes as part of the ongoing Dietary Guidelines for Americans process, during which lawmakers and officials review public agency comments to update the country’s dietary guidelines.

The senators sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra opposing any reclassification of potatoes. They referenced a 2013 study from the National Library of Medicine, which emphasized the nutritional benefits of potatoes as a vegetable, providing essential nutrients like potassium, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and fiber.

According to the lawmakers, potatoes have always been classified as a vegetable by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with data showing their significant contribution to a healthy diet. Registered Dietitian Patricia Bannan highlights the nutritional content of red potatoes, pointing out their high potassium levels, vitamin C, and iron content.

Supporters of keeping potatoes classified as a vegetable argue that reclassifying them could lead to confusion among consumers, retailers, restaurant operators, growers, and the supply chain. Any reclassification could also have economic implications for states like Idaho, known for its potato farming industry.

While potatoes are currently classified as a subset of starchy vegetables in dietary guidelines, experts caution about consuming them in moderation due to their higher calorie and lower fiber content compared to other vegetables. It is suggested that potatoes are often served with less healthy toppings like cheese, sour cream, or bacon, contributing to their reputation as a less healthy vegetable option.

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