WIC Shuns Potatoes. I'm Greg Martin with today's Line On Agriculture.
There are a lot of people still scratching their heads at the USDA's decision to exclude one of the basic food staples from the Women, Infant and Children or WIC nutrition program. John Keeling, Executive Vice President and CEO National Potato Council gives a bit of background that lead to the decision.
KEELING: Every time you start talking about adding something to the WIC program you've got people that everybody wants to be in it so there's always perceived winners and losers and so USDA commissioned a study by the Institute of Medicine to try to give them a scientific view of if you were going to incorporate fruits and vegetables into the WIC program, how you would do it.
The IOM brought back a report that suggested they include all fruits and vegetables, except white potatoes. Keeling says that included just about anything you could name.
KEELING: 22-hundred store keeping units, sku's, so lots and lots of every fruit and vegetables except in a small footnote they suggested excluding white potatoes. And even in the way they did it, white potatoes is not a very articulate way to describe potatoes because does that mean white skinned potatoes, white fleshed potatoes, what does it really mean but it's been interpreted to mean basically all Irish potatoes – everything but sweet potatoes.
And that has many growers confused especially since the study included hundreds of lesser nutritional foods like lettuce that has basically zero nutrition. Not a strong argument on the USDA side.
KEELING: Even though there was really no nutritional reason for excluding white potatoes, because understand WIC is all about fresh potatoes. It's not about French fries, it's about fresh potatoes in the produce section. But we think what happened was some of the scientists bias against frozen and fried potato products just overwhelmed their good judgement.
Potatoes have been a valued staple for generations and are surprisingly high in nutrition while containing zero fat. They have compiled a list of expert comments.
KEELING: Well we're just trying to make sure that USDA pays close attention to the expert comments that were filed in February where people again that are involved in delivering the WIC program who are involved with the registered dieticians who are involved in working with women, infant, children who are part of the WIC program understood the value of potatoes, understood that they should be included in the program and made that statement in overwhelming numbers.
That's today's Line On Agriculture. I'm Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network.