United Nations Announces 2008 "International Year of the Potato"

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Outstanding nutrition profile and health benefits key to UN's declaration of 2008 as the "International Year of the Potato."

Potatoes of the World

Consumers continue to be surprised to find out the potato is a healthful vegetable. Now we have the UN to back us up!

The General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) declared 2008 "International Year of the Potato" during a press conference today. Citing the potato's health benefits, strong nutrition profile and ability to feed the masses, the designation was approved as a way to help meet its Millennium Development Goals.

According to the UN, world population is expected to grow, on average, by more than 100 million people per year in the next 20 years, and 95 percent of this increase will occur in developing countries where resources are scarce. The UN will not be able to provide food relief for all of these people and needs to teach people how to feed themselves. Potatoes can be grown quickly and cheaply. In fact, they yield more nutritious food more quickly on less land and in harsher climates than any other major crop. Potatoes have provided food security and alleviated poverty worldwide for centuries.

"I've always been proud to be a part of an industry that grows a nutritious product," said Larry Alsum, chairman of the U.S. Potato Board (USPB) and guest at the UN event, "but I'm particularly proud today to know the potato is also an international staple capable of solving world hunger issues."

From China to Chile, the vegetable is a diet staple that is eaten at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Aside from tasting great and being easy to prepare, it is also highly nutritious and has many health benefits. One medium sized (5.3 ounces) potato contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol, and has 110 calories. It provides 45 percent of the recommended Daily Value of vitamin C. In addition, potatoes with skins contain 18% of the DV of potassium (while broccoli and bananas each contain 13%), topping the list of the 20 most frequently consumed raw fruits and vegetables.

The celebration was officially launched at the UN as part of World Food Day. The Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, Dr. Jacques Diouf, of the UN jointly proclaimed the year-long commemoration in front of the entire UN delegation, media, school children and honored guests.

Along with endorsing the nutritional and health benefits of the potato, the observance of the "International Year of the Potato" will provide an opportunity to learn about the importance of the vegetable, and of agriculture in general, in addressing issues of global concern, such as food insecurity, malnutrition, poverty and threats to the environment. For more information about the designation, visit the official International Year of the Potato web site at http://www.potato2008.org.

In this country, the USPB will celebrate the honor throughout 2008 with special programs. First, the USPB will feature guest chefs, breaking nutrition science research information, and super-fast cooking technique videos on its newly-launched blog, the Potato Underground, at http://www.potatounderground.com. Postings will be updated frequently, offering healthy and tasty recipes for America's Favorite Vegetable. Next, as an evolution of its longstanding commitment to nutrition education in schools, the USPB has teamed up with the School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) of the School Nutrition Association to create a School Wellness Grant Program. Ten (10) grants of $2,500 each will be awarded to public elementary schools in the United States for equipment and/or educational programs that will help move children toward healthier diets and improve their overall wellness. For details of the program, visit http://www.healthypotato.com or http://www.schoolnutrition.org. Grant applications must be completed by April 15, 2008 and will be awarded in July, 2008.

"The International Year of the Potato proclamation is the perfect progression to our ongoing nutrition communications campaign," said Linda McCashion, vice president of public relations for the USPB. "Consumers continue to be surprised to find out the potato is a healthful vegetable. Now we have the UN to back us up!"

Four new international potato dishes and more healthy recipes are available at http://www.healthypotato.com.

The USPB was established in 1971 by a group of potato growers to promote the benefits of eating potatoes. Recognized as an innovator in the producer marketing industry, the USPB was one of the first commodity groups to develop and use a nutrition label that was approved by the FDA. Based in Denver, CO, the USPB represents more than 4,000 potato growers and handlers across the country. For more information about the USPB and its programs, or for information about the health benefits of the potato, visit http://www.healthypotato.com.

Contact:    
Kris Caputo Hurley                     
Fleishman-Hillard, Inc.                
916-492-5337

Linda McCashion
United States Potato Board
303-873-2326

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Kris Caputo Hurley

Linda McCashion
United States Potato Board
303-873-2326
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