The United States government, under President Obama, seems to have declared war on the potato, under the theory that too much starch is bad for people. There are proposals to limit the use of potatoes for the WIC and school lunch programs.
Potato growers, who are angered that their crop has been singled out, point out that the potato does have nutritional value. According to AP:
“Growers note that potatoes have more potassium than bananas, and that one serving provides roughly 45 percent of the daily recommended value for vitamin C. They also offer some fiber and other minerals and vitamins.
“However, they also are high in carbohydrates – and calories, depending on how they are cooked – which can be a losing combination for couch potatoes. “
That last paragraph is the key. Deep fried potatoes, say in the form of French fries, or baked potatoes loaded down with sour cream and butter certainly are an employment opportunity for cardiologists. However, baking, grilling in aluminum foil, or cooking in a soup are healthier ways to prepare potatoes. There are toppings for baked potatoes, say fat free sour cream or chives, that are healthier as well.
The idea that the government is going to use its nutrition programs to force people to eat what it considers healthy should be a chilling experience for Americans. It suggests that the government feels that it knows better than people what they should eat. Holding to that attitude, the government would feel free to dictate what should constitute the diet of the American people.
Of course it won’t stop with people enrolled in government programs or with potatoes. Ideas are already afoot to slap taxes on what the government considers “junk food” to discourage people from eating, say, fried chicken or burgers. No doubt next there will be proposals for taxes on certain foods at the super market: red meat, butter, white bread, and of course potatoes, for example.
The government even has a policy excuse for inserting itself into our kitchens. Under health care reform, the government has a far greater role in paying for health care in America. It follows logically that with the obesity crisis causing everything from type two diabetes to cardiovascular disease, the government would feel empowered to tell people what they can and cannot eat, the better to avoid the obesity, the diseases, and hence the added cost.
Of course the other alternative would be for the government to butt out of controlling health care and hence diet and let people have the freedom to make their own choices. That may occasionally lead to unhealthy choices, but that is what freedom is all about.
Source: Feds consider limiting potatoes offered to kids, Shannon Dinney, AP, October 20th, 2010