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Much ado about taters

January 16, 2014 - Paul Giannamore
Taters are the biggest crisis facing government now that a mid-term election cycle budget has been passed that neither cuts spending nor raises taxes nor gets a handle on the deficit, which a year ago was enough to shut down the whole shebang.

But now that deficits and rampant huge government apparently is not so important compared with the need to get voters to the table, taters are the main dish.

Congress, with input from the 40 states where potatoes are commercially grown as well as the potato lobby, doesn’t want to follow the recommendations of nutritionists in restricting the amount of potatoes available to low-income pregnant and nursing mothers in a farm bill.

The nutritionists say Americans already eat too many potatoes, often in the form of french fries, while Congress sides with those who say potatoes are a nutritious foodstuff, not anything to be restricted from the diets of the poor.

No American worth their salt would bet their Yukon Gold against the lobbyists having their way. Lobbyists, after all, have their fingerlings in everything on Capitol Hill.

And Congress surely didn’t want to risk the issue being turned into a Native American issue by picking on the redskins.

The Women Infants and Children program folks have their own lobbyists, too, apparently as the National WIC Association is quoted in an Associated Press story as saying it would be “unconscionable” for the food industry to dictate what is allowed in WIC.

But the potato lobby, worth its weight in fiber and potassium, pointed out to the House that potatoes are nutritious, and economical for the poor to stretch their food dollars.

Personally, I think it’s time to stop mashing the poor potato. It’s not the tuber’s fault that people prefer cutting it into strips and dropping it into hot oil, or better yet, to have that done at some fast-food joint.

Maybe the real question is how people on WIC can afford all those fast-food or frozen bags of french fries in the first place.

But I digest.

It’s not an issue that should put starch in our diet after all.

Because french fries are usually topped by that most worthy of controversial government vegetables, ketchup, which was a food battle a couple decades ago when the government needed a diversion from real issues.

If I were the grower of other vegetables, I’d be boiling in oil to get my share of the shepherd’s pie.


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