Thursday, May 23, 2024
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US government’s proposal to reclassify potatoes as grains sparks controversy among lawmakers

NEW DELHI: The most beloved food item ‘potato’ will be no more called a vegetable. Recently, the US government proposed to reclassify it as a grain which has sparked controversy among lawmakers in rural areas.
Senators Susan Collins and Michael Bennet, representing Maine and Colorado respectively, are leading efforts to push back against this proposal, citing concerns about the potential impact on farming.In a joint letter to the US department of agriculture and the department of health and human services, the senators emphasized the historical classification of potatoes as a vegetable and urged officials to maintain this categorization.
The upcoming dietary guidelines for Americans 2025–2030, a collaborative effort between the two departments, include suggestions to remove the vegetable status of potatoes. This move has raised alarm as potatoes are a popular food choice in the US, with each person consuming an average of 50 pounds per year, albeit mostly in frozen forms like fries. A 2019 government study revealed that only a small fraction of adults meet the recommended vegetable intake, prompting discussions on whether potatoes should be considered part of this category due to their high carbohydrate content.
While some experts argue against including potatoes in the vegetable group, citing potential effects on blood sugar levels, a 2013 study from the national library of medicine highlighted the nutritional value of potatoes. Senators Collins and Bennet emphasized the nutrient-rich profile of potatoes, noting their contributions of potassium, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and fiber. They expressed concerns that reclassifying potatoes could lead to confusion among consumers, retailers, and growers, particularly in regions heavily reliant on potato farming.
According to The Maine Wire, potato farming plays a significant economic role, generating $540 million in annual sales and supporting 6,100 jobs in Maine alone. The senators are advocating for the retention of potatoes’ vegetable status, emphasizing their nutritional benefits and economic importance to local communities.
(With inputs from AFP agency)

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