Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What about the potato?

My good friend Sharon Burton, publisher of The Farmer’s Pride newspaper, gave me permission to post her latest editorial from the September 7 edition. I can totally relate to her struggles in trying to determine what eating healthy really is when you get so many conflicting reports. And these conflicting reports undeniably affect our perspectives of the food industry and agriculture.

I’ve been trying hard to educate myself about healthy eating. I’ve been counting carbs and sugars and have lost some weight since I began.

I’ve read a couple of books, visited health food stores and gotten on a number of email lists to receive encouragement and information.

I thought I was doing well. I thought I had learned something. I was starting to look at most breads as the enemy and green leafy foods as my friend. I had weaned myself from a lot of useless food—items that provide no nutrient benefit—and improved my menu dramatically.

Then I heard something on the radio that astounded me this morning. A study has shown that a group of obese people lowered their blood pressure by eating potatoes twice a day.


The reason I began my research was because I wanted to check for diabetes. I knew I tested just fine when blood was drawn but believed there might be something going on.

I learned that the medical industry usually just lets you know when you become a diabetic. There are warning signs along the way before your body stops converting glucose to energy if you know what to look for.

One of the ways to test your blood glucose level is to eat a fast acting carbohydrate. One website I found recommended a number of foods, including a large boiled potato.

Now, if potatoes will jump up your blood sugar level, how can they be good for you?

I went back to one of the books I read to see what I could find. The book, “The Belly Fat Cure,” recommends no more than 15 grams of sugar and 6 servings (around 120 grams) of carbs a day, spaced out in meals and snacks, thus the number 15/6.

A red medium potato uses up three of those 15 sugars and 2 of those 6 carb servings.

A large baked potato uses four of each—two-thirds of the recommended carbs.

A researcher told USA Today that the potato skin is the key. Potatoes contain a substance similar to ACE inhibitors, a widely used family of blood pressure drugs, according to the statement released about the research project.

So, is the potato my friend or enemy?

Is there any wonder people are beginning to question the motives of the food industry? Do you understand why agriculture is under attack? If we don’t know whether or not we can trust a potato, what can we trust? Who do we trust?

There are so many similar stories. Remember the attack on the egg? Everything I read now says to start my day with a couple of eggs, real butter and some bacon.

Each one of these items has been the target of attacks in the past.

Honestly, trying to learn the truth about food is one of the most frustrating experiences I have gone through in a while. It’s no wonder people give up and go back to eating Twinkies.

But I’m determined not to eat Twinkies. I want to do better for myself. I just have a simple question. What about the potato?

The Farmer’s Pride, is a statewide newspaper that provides hometown news for Kentucky’s farm community. Sharon has been in the newspaper business all her adult life and has enjoyed traveling the commonwealth visiting farms, rural communities and covering all aspects of Kentucky agriculture since 1989. Under Sharon’s leadership, The Farmer’s Pride has been recognized by commodity and other farm organizations across Kentucky with various communications awards for its role in covering issues vital to Kentucky farmers.

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