Certainties shaken : is nutritionism a science ?

@topffer (36113)
Svalbard And Jan Mayen
February 24, 2012 6:25am CST
I was browsing the USDA food database, and I found that the potato was in the "Vegetables & Vegetables Products" group. A potato is a vegetable ? I learned that it is a starch, like bread, pasta, rice... 10 mn later -- Google is my friend -- I arrived at this curious conclusion that a US potato is generally supposed to be a vegetable and a French potato is supposed to be a starch. It is not certain that this debate would inflame the potatoes themselves as they are not very talkative, but it has shaken my certainties. Until today I thought that nutritionism was a science. What sort of science is it, if nutritionists can't agree to class a potato -- Solanum tuberosum L. -- in the same group of food on both sides of the Atlantic ? Scientists can commit errors -- and nutritionists have done their owns errors, prejudicial to our health : think only at margarine --, but they definitely need to have the same basis everywhere, else they are not scientists but charlatans. What are your thoughts about this ? This discussion is not a poll, but I would be also curious to know if a potato is or is not a vegetable for you ?
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6 responses
@thesids (22358)
• Bhubaneswar, India
24 Feb 12
Hi topffer To me? A potato is well a Potato. I dont bother much about it being a fruit or a veggie or even starch. I know I can make some great food items from it and also use it to clean my shirt's collars Many uses of this potato as long as I get it. Okay, seriously, I am following this discussion to keep myself update wrt what actually should it be! American Veggie or French Starch... (or Indian Alloo, sorry couldnt resist)... But I think it is a starch veggie
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@topffer (36113)
• Svalbard And Jan Mayen
24 Feb 12
In this food discussion I forgot the cleaning properties of starches. Potatoes have been used to clean old paintings in the past, but the better starch to do this -- and still used by paintings restorers -- is crumb. I would like to understand your silly joke but I don't know what is "Indian Alloo".
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@thesids (22358)
• Bhubaneswar, India
25 Feb 12
Alloo is the Indian (or Hindi name for this Potato). I should have mentioned that. Sorry. Yes, I agree and would say that Potato is starch. I asked my wife yesterday and she came up with some of the books they teach at school which mention potatoes as tubers and say they are starch. At least this is what they teach at school. Even I too learned that they were more of starch and should have remembered it before writing the response. Now for Americans to call it a veggie... maybe they have their reasons or anything
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@topffer (36113)
• Svalbard And Jan Mayen
25 Feb 12
"Allô" in French is "hallo" in English, but now I know it is the name for "potato" in Hindi. How will I be able to answer to the phone seriously with this new knowledge? The opinions differ for potatoes : Stine says that in Germany, they are also a veggie, and Germany is a near country for me. It is weird to see that nutritionists cannot play the same tune all other the world. It is probably because it is a too recent science.
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@Olleenz (3400)
• Indonesia
24 Feb 12
Lucky for us they not said potato as fruit. I totally confused if they said that But potato it always vegetable ...
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@Olleenz (3400)
• Indonesia
24 Feb 12
he he he ....
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@topffer (36113)
• Svalbard And Jan Mayen
24 Feb 12
Are you both suggesting to create another category for tubers?
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@Olleenz (3400)
• Indonesia
24 Feb 12
Not sure ..... Maybe I gonna asked my doctor first ....
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• United States
25 Feb 12
I have to agree that potatoes are both vegetables and starches. Corn (as you mentioned in a previous response box) is also a vegetable yet it is high in starch and sugar. Corn is also high in fiber, though, and it should not be classified in the "starches" category, in my opinion. On the other hand, potatoes should be classified in the "starches" category, but that does not make them any less a vegetable.
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@topffer (36113)
• Svalbard And Jan Mayen
25 Feb 12
All I can say is that all cereals are classified here in the starches, although there is a difference between a canned box of corn, which does not bring many more calories than vegetables, and corn flour which has the same calories than wheat flour. This "starch" group does not seem to be used by nutritionists in the USA, and it is why I started this discussion.
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• United States
25 Feb 12
Once you change the corn into a different form, such as flour, then the category can (and should) change depending upon how you modify it. If you fry a potato, then it is higher in calories than a boiled potato without any butter. If you put green, leafy vegetables, which are themselves low in calories not to mention high in fiber and vitamins, into a Taco salad, then the meal is not so healthy and the caloric intake skyrockets. On the other hand, they are much tastier in the Taco salad.
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• Canada
27 Feb 12
I, in all honesty..do NOT care how they are classified...but I do care, both Corn and Potatoes make wonderful spirits!Care for a little Potato Champagne or a shot of Corn whiskey...just a shot or two, and we'll be doing the "Mashed Potato" at the Corn Husker's Ball!
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@louievill (19698)
• Philippines
24 Feb 12
Potato is both a vegetable and starch, potato is a root crop, I just researched and the definition of vegetable is any edible part of a plant so definetly it's a vegetable, it's also starch cause it's a polysaccharide, produced by green plants for energy, cause if you know your biochemistry, its glucose (simple sugar) joined by glycosidic bonds that makes starch in potato a complex sugar so I would say it's both
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@topffer (36113)
• Svalbard And Jan Mayen
24 Feb 12
hi louievill, On my side, I have researched the definition of starch and I have found that starches are -- http://www.thefreedictionary.com/starch -- "3. Foods having a high content of starch, as rice, breads, and potatoes." Your definition of a vegetable is very large : can I say that rice, corn, pineapple and mango are veggies? You are a true diplomat today : if a potato is a veggie and a starch, everybody is right and satisfied. Politically correct apart, I think that nutritionists must choose one of two, and it would be better if a potato was in the same group everywhere.
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@louievill (19698)
• Philippines
25 Feb 12
yeah but still I would stick to the definition of a vegetable, we eat banana blossoms here ( called " puso ng saging" literally translated here it means banana heart)and coconut tree heart, called "ubod' or the soft middle part of the trunk just under the leaves and they are all called vegetables. Okay, no quarrel , why don't they just call potatoes and the like "starchy vegetables"
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@topffer (36113)
• Svalbard And Jan Mayen
26 Feb 12
Why not "starchy food" ? We can buy canned hearts of palm here, but I don't know if they are from coconut trees or from other palm trees. Googling. 70 palm trees are "heart eaten" around the world. Amazing ! I will look at provenances next time I will buy a canned box.
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@sminut13 (1786)
• Singapore
27 Feb 12
wow this is definitely food for thought. ís potato a vegetable?'that definitely made me ponder for a while. although i'm a housewife, i also tutor students at my place. and what i can understand simply is that potato is underground stem or starchy food. but yes, you can consider it vegetable as well since it doesn't have seeds and if we actually think about it, those leafy green vegetables have stems but they're vegetables too. if we think of it this way, then yea why can't potatoes be vegetables as well hehehehe as for your question is nutritionism a science, hmmm...from my simple way of thinking, i guess it can be considered part of science as well. we need to be able to classify nutritions, food and all, and the category for that, i guess scientists are the ones to come up with them. so in the ends, both nutritionists and scientists have to actually work together. they are each its own category and yet at the same time, depending on circumstances, can be considered science as well...ook i'm getting confused myself so i'd better end here hehehe
@topffer (36113)
• Svalbard And Jan Mayen
1 Mar 12
Your post is interesting. Nutritionism is not botany, and categories can differ from a science to another, but I think all nutritionists should use the same categories through the world. If there is some glitches here and there, it is probably because it is something new and not completely mature.
@beamer88 (4267)
• Philippines
24 Feb 12
I've heard about this debate whether potatoes are vegetables or grouped into the category of starches. Well, I grew up knowing that potatoes were vegetables. And as a child, I was taught that food was basically classified into meat, fish, vegetables and fruits. That's how simple my knowledge of foods was. I guess everything changes in due time. A few years ago, Pluto was still a planet and potatoes were vegetables :)
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@topffer (36113)
• Svalbard And Jan Mayen
24 Feb 12
I am not against the idea to have only a few groups for food as a simplification that can be easily understood, but it is in the nature of science to create daily more and more categories. Pluto is a good example : it was a planet, and it is now a "dwarf planet", even if the term "dwarf" may hurt the sensibility of Pluto.
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