The Persecution of the Potato

Americans are eating fewer potatoes, but is that a bad thing?

Lindsey Ramsey, Contributing Editor

I came across an article this morning that got me thinking about the time-honored favorite vegetable of my generation, the potato. The article presented findings from a study conducted by the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE), which obviously has an agenda of its own, but the findings were interesting nonetheless.

The study reported that school-aged children consumed, on average, 3% or less of calories per day from all types of white potatoes, including baked, boiled, mashed and french fried. Children consumed, on average, less than 1% of their daily caloric intake from white potatoes at school. Those trends continue into adulthood, according to the study; adult males between the ages of 19 and 30 get an average of 92 calories per day (3.3% of their total calories) from white potatoes, based on information obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Men over the age of 71 get the same percentage of calories from potatoes, but due to a decrease in overall food consumption, they get just 63 calories from the starch in an average day. Likewise, the study found that adult women over the age of 19 get 52 calories, or less than 3% of their daily intake, from potatoes.

So we are eating less potatoes, but is that really a problem? According to the article it is. It cited information given by Dr. Adam Drewnowski and colleagues from the University of Washington, who presented research at the American Dietetic Association’s (ADA) Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE), which demonstrated that potatoes were one of the best nutritional values in the produce department, providing significantly better nutritional value per dollar than most other raw vegetables.

All this talk of potatoes got me thinking of the vegetable's place in non-commercial foodservice, espeically considering all the news surrounding the new school meal pattern. Congress decision not to limit the use of white potatoes as a vegetable caused a bit of an uproar in the school food community earlier this year, but the potatoes survived. There is no doubt there has been a concerted effort made to swap out traditional white potatoes for other varieties and other vegetables for health reasons, even though white potatoes have plenty of nutritional benefits of their own.

In light of this study I want to throw the question out to non-commerical operators. Are you serving more or less potatoes than you were a few years ago? Why? Why not? Do you believe the hype that eating less potatoes is a bad thing? Let us know in the comments or email me at

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
star wars storm trooper

My favorite event—because I’m kind of dorky—is our “May the fourth be with you” (aka “Star Wars”) day on May 4. The whole dining team dresses up, and we offer things like Chewbaklava, Boba Fettuccine and BB-8 Buckeyes. We had a guest cry because they got to take a picture with Chewy.

Menu Development
spilled coffee beans glasses

Following an initial test at the end of May, Starbucks announced that more than 500 of its stores will be pouring nitro coffee by the end of summer. Capitalizing on the cold-brew coffee trend—which reached $7.9 million in sales in 2015 on 115% growth from the previous year, according to researcher Mintel—select U.S. cafes will give up the counter space to serve the creamy, nitrogen-infused java made from the cold-brew base. But how did nitro become the hottest new thing in coffee?

Bringing the bar to coffeehouses

It was the chrome double tap, similar to a bar’s beer tap, and the...

Ideas and Innovation
tray number

We created lucky tray days to help create an experience surrounding our brand. The trays are numbered; we pick a number and the winner receives a free lunch. We’ve enlisted the help of one of our coaches, who calls out the random lucky winner, and it drums up a lot of excitement.

Menu Development
recipe revamp chicken soup

As a continuous care retirement community, The Garlands of Barrington in Illinois provides daily foodservice to 270 independent living and skilled nursing care residents, with the majority of sodium restrictions coming from the latter, says Executive Chef Nicola Torres. Instead of cooking two versions of chicken noodle soup—a favorite offered at least twice a week—he reworked his recipe into a flavorful lower-sodium version that appeals to all. “Everybody eats soup, so I created a homemade stock that uses no salt at all, ramping up the flavor with fresh herbs and plenty of vegetables,...

FSD Resources