The potato is the No. 1 vegetable consumed by Americans. It is an excellent source of potassium, contains 45 percent of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C and provides all essential amino acids.
But could the nutritional value of potatoes be improved? That is what U.S. Department of Agriculture research geneticist Kathy Haynes has been asking for nearly 30 years. Her quest for the answer has led her to breeding a more nutritious potato, similar to the papa criolla types found in South America.
Haynes’ quest has also led to a collaboration with New Mexico State University for field trials to see if the new lines of potatoes can be raised in New Mexico as a specialty crop.
“When Dr. Haynes contacted us, I was very excited,” said Stephanie Walker, NMSU Extension vegetable specialist and researcher. “Potatoes are the most widely consumed vegetable, but are low in the antioxidant compounds that are found in the papa criolla types. This research is taking a vegetable that is already loved by people and then making it even more nutritious.”