War: Spud industry resists USDA effort to yank potatoes from school lunches
posted at 8:33 pm on May 17, 2011 by Allahpundit
Remember when food was tasty and being a kid was fun?
In my own hazy, rose-colored memories of lunchtime at school, we used to eat ice-cream pizza with french-fried sprinkles. Learning was a pleasure.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to eliminate the “white potato”—defined as any variety but the sweet potato—from federally subsidized school breakfasts and to limit them sharply at lunch…
With the USDA set to release final rules in coming months, and put them into effect in the 2012-2013 school year, the National Potato Council in Washington, D.C., is urging the “entire potato industry” to mobilize.
In its “Tell USDA to Keep Potatoes in Schools!” campaign, the National Potato Council calls the spud affordable and “kid pleasing,” adding “familiar shapes make lunchtime fun.” It bills potatoes as a “gateway,” that can introduce students to other vegetables “in, around, and on top of the potato.” The Maine Potato Board similarly touts the spud as a “conduit” veggie, which because of its “immense popularity” can propel people to eat broccoli or spinach as toppings…
Last year, the government said participants in the USDA’s program for low-income pregnant women and their children couldn’t use federal money to buy white potatoes. The Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, made the recommendation, arguing most people already eat enough potatoes and should be encouraged to eat other vegetables.
And to think, some people find the Obama administration to be a bit of a drag. Here’s the National Potato Council’s ode to the school-lunch spud; Ed wrote about the “war on potatoes” back in October and what it might portend for greater government intrusion into dietary choices. There does seem to be an uptick lately in stories about the state obsessing over kids’ weight, from curiosities like this to moronic attempts to ban Happy Meals to eyebrow-raising technology in which kids’ semi-empty plates are actually videotaped so schools can make sure they’re not consuming too many calories. The next step, I take it, will be to make five-year-olds keep daily diaries on one of those online calorie-counting websites, and then somewhere down the road we’ll presumably eliminate the middle man and just chip ’em to make sure they’re not overeating.
And as always, where there’s government meddling, there’s waste:
The regulations would also require schools to spend more money for fresh fruits and vegetables. Many districts now serve cheaper canned fruits or frozen vegetables…
What the government sees as a drive for more nutritious meals, some in the states see as an unfunded mandate from Washington…
Ms. Castaneda said her district’s food budget, including breakfast and lunch programs, would increase by $111,234 under the guidelines taking shape. Federal school lunch program reimbursements would cover $32,460, leaving the Pennridge district little choice but to raise lunch prices to come up with the remaining $78,774.
A food-service director in Maine told the Journal that she tried swapping out french fries for sweet-potato fries, but most of them ended up in the garbage. Get her a videocamera, stat. Exit question: As much as I want to be on the potato industry’s side here, is it remotely true that potatoes are a “gateway drug” to green/healthier vegetables? I’ve consumed many a fry in my time, and for me they’ve never been a gateway to, say, broccoli. They’ve been a gateway to more fries.