The good news is that white potatoes finally have been taken off the black list by the United States Department of Agriculture, according to Elizabeth Williamson, writing in The Wall Street Journal. The new federal budget eliminates what was for all practical purposes a ban on white spuds under the assumption that white spuds are too starchy. Sweet potatoes and yams were recommended instead on USDA menu referrals.
Food scientists, for some reason, came to the conclusion a few years ago that white potatoes weren’t all that nutritious, and talked the government into warning people against them. Most people wisely ignored the government recommendation and kept wolfing down white potatoes in the many forms in which they’re served: Baked, french fried, hash browned, boiled, mashed, riced, sliced, grated and in salads. As a result, these people consumed a lot of potassium and other nutrients, as well as plenty of starch. And they are happy.
Further research also has shown that sweet potatoes and yams, while yummy in their own way are no more nutritious than white potatoes, although they do offer the benefit of beta carotine, which carrots also provide and which will make you turn orange if you eat enough of it. (However, if you happen to love sweet potatoes, keep eating them; there is little danger you will turn orange unless you eat them daily with carrots.)
If my father (may his sainted soul rest in peace) had heard of the USDA trying to warn people off potatoes, he would have turned red in the face and screamed. To him, the Russet potato of Idaho was nature’s most perfect food. “A person can live on potatoes,” he said.
His love of the tuber may have stemmed from the fact that he made his living as a broker of Russets to chain stores and restaurants back east. If you ate McDonald’s french fries back then, the spuds you gobbled may have been sold to the restaurant by him. He would go to work at 3 a.m., get on the phone with the buyers on the East Coast and the Midwest, and peddle potatoes.
By the way, the averagesized No. 1 Russet potato, baked or boiled, contains about 90 calories. It’s the stuff you eat with it, such as butter and sour cream, that piles on the calories. Which is just fine in my book.