Potatoes USA: Changing the Couch Potato Narrative

The phrase “couch potato” describes a person who spends little or no time exercising and a great deal of time watching TV. We’ve all heard that, but Potatoes USA also feels it gives potatoes a bad rap. Despite research that shows potatoes are chock full of nutrients and an asset to a healthy lifestyle, Potatoes USA, the national potato marketing association, is working to change the perception of spuds.  President and CEO Blair Richardson says the organization is focused on marketing potatoes domestically and overseas with research findings that potatoes are good for you. No matter how much TV you watch.

Well for us it’s mostly about education at this point in time, over the past 30 years, especially up until the last five or six years. There’s been a lot of misperceptions about the health and nutrition related to potatoes and what we found in the research that’s been conducted globally from many different researchers is that a potato is a wonderful, nutrient dense vegetable and it’s America’s favorite vegetable. So if you’re going to enjoy something and you want to get those nutrients to people, you should let them eat what they love and that’s a potato.

It doesn’t sound right to say that a loaded baked potato is as nutritious as a salad, but Blair argues that’s exactly the type of myth they’re setting out to debunk.

Well, I would argue that even a French fry is a healthy option in moderation. This is the thing that we don’t always put two and two together here. So if you look at a use of baked potatoes you brought up as an example, you look at a baked potato, you start with a potato, it’s got all the nutrients in it, and then you decide what you’re going to put on top of it. You might put a little bit of butter, salt, pepper, and that’s it and that’s wonderful. You get a little fat you get a little potassium, vitamin C fiber, all the other nutrients, and then you might add a little cheese or other products. Very few people eat just a green salad. They also put salad dressing and oil and vinegar and all other types of toppings on there. By the time you weigh the two out, which one’s the healthiest? I might still prefer the green salad for the specific phytonutrients that are in green vegetables, or I might choose a baked potato that’s going to fill me up and lasts all day.

But it’s not all about nutrition facts. Potatoes USA wants to change the perception that potatoes are what sit on the couch.

So what we’re really focused on, and have been for the past several years, is changing the conversation about potato, so pushing back on that old image of a couch potato idea was sitting on the couch eating what whatever. And really helping people understand that regardless of what your activity is, whether you’re an athlete or a school teacher or a farmer, you need energy that’s going to fuel your day, and a potato is a perfect opportunity breakfast lunch, dinner, snack, it provides you the opportunity to eat something that’s nutrient dense and allows you to carry that energy throughout your day.