Happy National Pot(assium)ato Day!

August 19, 2020 in Crops

Happy National Pot(assium)ato Day!

Potatoes. We love ‘em. After all, it’s where we got our start as a business. And we’re not alone either because, according to data collected by USDA, they are officially America’s most commonly consumed vegetable and have been for years. And it isn’t a particularly close race either. Check out the chart from the Economic Research Service below. 

Side note: We love broccoli as much as anybody else. However, we find the results of a 2018 vegetable popularity survey claiming that broccoli is the most popular vegetable to be dubious at best. The Today Show is similarly skeptical. In any case, here at Medius Ag we are an inclusive bunch and recommend a good baked potato topped with broccoli. You really can’t go wrong with that and it makes everybody happy (toddlers excluded). 

But let’s not stray from the terrific tuber on its own national holiday. These days it’s easy to be bombarded with trendy diet recommendations from acai berry to zucchini. Of course, the potato is often vilified in many of these pieces as silver bullet diet solutions become ever more popular and mainstream, even if also misguided. From the South Beach Diet in past years to the recent paleo and ketogenic movements, potatoes are out of bounds and off-limits much to the chagrin of just about everybody. Heck, even USDA tried to drastically reduce the availability of potatoes in the National School Lunch Program in 2011. Even more drastic, in the School Breakfast Program they proposed eliminating them altogether (hash browns, anyone?). The basic argument was that kids were getting enough of them outside of school cafeterias. 

But there is plenty of evidence to suggest that, as a population, the opposite is true. If it were not, potassium wouldn’t have a constant presence on the U.S. government’s list of “nutrients of concern” that are included in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) published every five years by USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services. In fact, the 2020 DGAs are under development as we write this and it wouldn’t surprise us one bit if potassium finds itself there again. For what it’s worth, a nutrient of concern is defined as one where the shortfall (or overconsumption) is determined to lead to a public health concern. 

But what does potassium have to do with potatoes? We’re glad you asked! It turns out that potatoes are chock-full of potassium. In fact, they are at the top of the list for sources of potassium among fruits and veggies. If you’ve ever run a 10-miler, half marathon, full marathon, etc., then you know that bananas are the popular choice of race organizers everywhere as a post-race snack offering. But as convenient and tasty as bananas might be, they have less than half the potassium of potatoes per portion size. 

Of course, potatoes don’t provide only potassium. You can ingest plenty of other important nutrients when eating potatoes, including vitamin C and fiber. For a comprehensive nutritional overview, check out the nutrition label. Even better news is that by a cost-per-nutrient measure, you just can’t beat potatoes and beans

So on this National Potato Day, remember that you can, and should, eat your potatoes guilt-free. 

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