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Thursday June 30, 2011 | 12:03 PM

Sen. Olympia Snowe has penned a defense of the under-siege potato for the pages of the Wall Street Journal’s letters to the editor section.

The Maine Republican and other members of the Maine congressional delegation have been waging a fight to keep the potato, a major Maine crop, from being excluded from the lists of vegetables sanctioned for federal programs such as the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program and the free and reduced-price lunch program.

Snowe was reacting to a Wall Street Journal story about a Harvard study that found eating more potatoes, particularly French fries, led to gaining more weight than eating more of other food groups.

“Reading the piece, one would think eating a potato is as bad as eating junk food. The article completely misses the point that the problem is not with the potato; the issue is with how it is prepared,’ Snowe says in her letter, published today.

“It doesn't take a medical journal to determine that deep frying anything and piling on an excessive number of toppings with no consideration of portion size will add to a person's caloric intake and result in weight gain over time,” Snowe wrote. “Baked or boiled, one medium-size potato contains 200 milligrams more potassium than a banana and as much fiber as a similar serving of broccoli. The potato is both fat-free and cholesterol-free.”

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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