U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mark Udall (D-CO) filed an amendment to the Farm Bill that would require all fresh fruits and vegetables, including fresh white potatoes, to be included in the final United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food package. The amendment would allow only fresh, whole, or cut vegetables to be included-vegetables with added sugars, fats, or oils would be prohibited.
Currently, fresh white potatoes are the only fresh fruit or vegetable excluded from the WIC food package, which sends a message to Americans that potatoes are not nutritious. Potatoes' exclusion from the USDA rule went into effect in December 2009 and is based on recommendations of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) report, which uses consumption data that is nearly 20 years old. The subsequently published 2010 DGA, however, recommended five to six cups of starchy vegetables per week for women with a daily caloric intake of 1,800-2,400 calories-an increase of two to three cups per week from the 2005 DGA. The amendment would bring the USDA rule for the WIC food package in line to reflect the most recent DGA.
"The potato is a wonderfully nutritious food that is inexpensive, easy to transport, has a long storage life and can be used in a wide array of recipes," Senator Collins said. "It makes perfect sense to include this healthy, locally grown vegetable in the WIC package."
"Access to fruits and vegetables is the cornerstone of a balanced and healthy diet. We need to ensure that Congress does not take any fresh, healthy options off the table for working families and children," Senator Udall said. "That's why I am proud to stand with Coloradans to offer this bipartisan amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill."
Here are nutritional facts about potatoes that are often overlooked:
Potatoes have more potassium than bananas, a food commonly associated with this nutrient.
Potatoes are cholesterol-free, fat-free, and sodium-free, and can be served in countless healthy ways.
A medium baked potato contains 15 percent of the daily recommended value of dietary fiber, 27 percent of the daily recommended value for vitamin B6, and 28 percent of the daily recommended value of Vitamin C.
The WIC food package is a USDA program designed to provide supplemental foods designed to meet the special nutritional needs of low-income pregnant, breast feeding, non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and infants and children up to five years of age who are at nutritional risk.