You Say Potato…

Maureen Storey, PhD , President and CEO of Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE)  recently wrote “Last week, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its letter report recommending that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) allow participants of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to buy white potatoes with the cash value voucher (CVV) for fruits and vegetables. This recommendation recognizes that white potatoes are significant sources of potassium, dietary fiber and vitamin C, which are nutrients critical to a healthy diet for all ages.”

Photo credit: Thoursie, 1414350,

This news is not only important for WIC participants but a good reminder for all, of the many healthful benefits potatoes bring to a regular diet.  Yet, the average American does eat potatoes and regularly, so why is this news, well…news? The average American consumes 75 pounds of potatoes annually. However, most of this consumption comes in the form of French fries and potato chips. In this form, you lose almost all of the natural healthful benefits potatoes provide. Potatoes are a source of complex carbohydrates and minerals, most notably potassium (location in the skin) and a source of vegetable protein. When eaten in combination with meat, dairy or grains potatoes form a complete protein.

Another fantastic thing about potatoes is that it is a major local crop for us living in Portage County, Wisconsin. It is a healthy, low-cost source of nutrients and incredibly easy to store and a go-to stable during the long winter months. Most potatoes will keep up to 2 weeks, it is best to store away from the light (I keep my potatoes in a caldron under the sink) and at or a little below room temperature.

In addition to being local, low-cost and nutrient packed, potatoes are incredibly versatile and easy to introduce into any dish or method of cooking. Potatoes are delicious baked, microwaved, roasted, mashed, boiled added to soups, salads, omelets and stir-fries.

With literally hundreds of potato varieties in the world, what makes the potato such a vegetable diamond in the rough, is a combination of its versatility in cooking, accessibility both locally and in questions of affordability and it’s incredible source of nutrients. I applaud, along with Dr. Storey, the IOM’s recommendations and hope these decisions bring our community one step closer to healthy eating and active living!

by Ashley J. Ormson