The federal government is working on new nutrition regulations for federally subsidized school lunch programs, meaning certain food industries will be waging all-out fights to protect their streams of revenue. This is not surprising in any way! Unfortunately, there's nothing in the Constitution protecting the potato industry's right to federal money, as Michele Bachmann wants the fight to be framed.
The USDA wants to limit the amount of white potatoes used in subsidized lunches for cheap, tasty and unhealthy foods like salty tater-tots, french fries, and "potato bars," meaning baked potatoes stuffed with cheese, sour cream, butter, maybe some chocolate, and so on. It's part of a crackdown on excessive starch, and under the proposal, "school cafeterias would have to limit starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, peas and lima beans to a total of one cup per week for lunch," as the Wall Street Journal writes.
So now the starch people and their allies in Congress are upset! Check out Sen. Susan Collins:
At a March Senate hearing on the USDA budget, Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) hoisted a standard-fare brown-skinned spud in one hand and, in the other, a head of iceberg lettuce, which hasn't come under explicit federal scrutiny. One medium white potato contains nearly twice the vitamin C "as this entire head," she said, asking: "So my question, Mr. Secretary, is what does the department have against potatoes?"
Potatoes are racist, Senator. Next?
You can disagree with these particular rules or the federal government's policy of subsidizing school lunch programs (and therefore having a say in what they serve). But Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann — who might have a more pressing political concern with the "corn" problem — just had to salt this issue with Tea Party buzz-logic in a tweet this morning: "Where in the Constitution does it say the fed. government should regulate potatoes in school lunches? It doesn't."
Well, we're not sure if the Constitution makes a lot of specific food recommendations for lunch-program grant money that state and local governments accept. It allows for such grants to exist, though.
And c'mon, the Founding Fathers probably didn't care for Irish slave food.