March is recognized as National Nutrition Month. Promoting the nutritional profile of Idaho potatoes has been a priority of the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) for the last nine years. When the anti-carbohydrate fad peeked and consumers were shunning potatoes, we enlisted the help of fitness guru Denise Austin to help educate the public on the importance of eating a healthy diet that includes foods rich in carbohydrates like potatoes.
Fortunately, through our national advertising campaign and various public relations program, we've been able to not only help reverse the public's misperception of potatoes, but also help elevate their overall nutritional profile.
Denise Austin Recipe Contest
This year we worked with Denise Austin to launch "Denise Austin's Idaho Potato Recipe Contest on MrFood.com." Consumers submitted their favorite healthy potato recipes in February and a panel of judges narrowed down the submissions to ten finalists. Now, it's the public opportunity to vote for their favorite recipe on www.mrfood.com. The Grand Prize Winner will be awarded $2,500 and his/her recipe will be announced on a nationally syndicated Mr. Food TV segment by Denise in April. Nine finalists will receive special prize packages, including Mr. Food Test Kitchen, Denise Austin and Idaho potato branded merchandise. Be sure to vote!
American Heart Association Certification
The IPC led the charge in getting all fresh Idaho potatoes certified by the American Heart Association (AHA) as a heart-healthy food. This important certification mark is one of the most recognized and respected marks in the country. In fact:
73 percent of primary shoppers trust the American Heart Association more than any other organization to certify food products;
83 percent of consumers are aware of the heart-check mark;
66 percent of primary grocery shoppers say the heart-check mark has a strong or moderate influence on their choices when shopping.
Many shippers now prominently display the AHA seal alongside the famous "Grown in Idaho" certification mark.
The Nutrition section on the IPC's website, www.idahopotato.com/nutrition_education, has become a go-to site for health-conscious consumers looking for ways to incorporate more healthful foods into their diets. In this section, they will find important information about potatoes and an abundant collection of recipes.
See How the Potato Stacks Up
To help folks optimize their food choices, we created a chart that compares the nutrient density of the potato to bananas, apples, brown rice and pasta.
Millions of Americans suffer from gluten-intolerance and celiac disease and are always looking for healthy foods they can enjoy. Potatoes are 100 percent gluten-free. To help folks incorporate this all-natural food into their diet, we worked with a dietitian to develop a variety of recipes that are gluten-free.
When the USDA launched MyPlate, a simple yet impactful program to help empower consumers to identify the best food choices and optimum portion size, we quickly embraced this tool to demonstrate how easily potatoes can be incorporated into their daily meal planning.
I hope you take a moment to look at IPC's website and see how we are working to educate consumers on the many ways all potatoes help build and maintain a healthy lifestyle.