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The feds' war on school-lunch french fries
The USDA may change lunch menus — all but banning the venerable "white potato" — and the spud industry is sputtering with rage
 
Whether baked or fried, the white potato is not healthy enough for kids, according to the USDA, which is contemplating nearly banning it from federally subsidized school lunches.
Whether baked or fried, the white potato is not healthy enough for kids, according to the USDA, which is contemplating nearly banning it from federally subsidized school lunches.
Jana Birchum/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is mulling a near-total ban on potatoes from federally subsidized school breakfasts and lunches — limiting servings of all spuds but sweet potatoes (plus other starchy vegetables) to just one cup per student per week. While a livid potato industry defends its fare as a "gateway vegetable" that eases kids into healthier, greener veggies, some lawmakers are equally incensed. "Where in the Constitution does it say the fed. government should regulate potatoes in school lunches? It doesn't," tweeted Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) Are the feds going too far?

This is the nanny state run amok: When the federal "food police" are done with us, says Rick Moran at The American Thinker, "we will all be eating dandelions and alfalfa sprouts, with bean curd pie for dessert." Must everything kids actually relish be considered unhealthy? Potatoes aren't. And don't get me started on "this nonsense about only one cup of corn a week," or peas, or even lima beans. It's downright irrational.
"Potatoes the latest victim of food police"

Wait, why should the feds pay for french fries? This "small, simple, basic reform" is perfectly rational, says Matthew Yglesias at ThinkProgress. The government wants its money to go toward "healthier, more nutrient-rich vegetables," not french fries and tater tots. What's "nuts" is the conservative argument that "potato growers are entitled to their school lunch money," just like health care providers are apparently "entitled to unlimited wasteful spending at federal expense." They're not.
"Bachmann thinks the federal government can’t regulate the use of federal money"

Potatoes aren't unhealthy, people are: Look, "I’ve got no problem with efforts to encourage kids to eat better," says Greg Conko at OpenMarket. But the USDA is "throwing the baby out with the bath water." Potatoes are cheap, full of vitamins and nutrients, and healthy — depending on how they're prepared. Sure, "eating too many fries or baked potatoes smothered in butter and sour cream can easily lard a kid’s diet with way too much saturated fat." But why scrap the spud over what boils down to a recipe dispute?
"USDA's war on potatoes"

 

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