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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Emerging Science Note/Low-Carb Spuds

Air Date: Week of

Living on Earth’s Jennifer Chu reports on a new low-carb potato that could whet the appetite of even the most diligent Atkins dieter.


CURWOOD: Just ahead: The price the moon bears of Asia must pay in the practice of traditional medicine. First, this Note on Emerging Science from Jennifer Chu.


CHU: A professor at the University of Florida has created the first low-carbohydrate potato, hoping to lure those on protein heavy diets like Atkins back to the spud. Chad Hutchinson crossed potatoes with various traits like grade, size, vigor and maturity. The result was a potato that ripened quicker than your average potato and is ready to harvest in 75 days compared to more than 100 days for existing varieties.

This speedier ripening time allows the potato to reach maturity before starch and sugar levels begin to rise. This, in turn, creates a spud with 33 percent less carbs than a standard Russet. Researchers say what Hutchinson’s potato lacks in carbohydrates it makes up for in flavor and appearance. Its buff-colored skin and light yellow flesh will help growers market the tasty tuber as “gourmet.”

Hutchinson partnered with a Dutch seed company to create the potato. He spent five seasons evaluating the crop in Florida’s harsh weather extremes and says the potato will easily thrive there. In anticipation of the demand, Florida’s commercial potato growers plan to harvest their first crop in January 2005. That’s this week’s Note on Emerging Science. I’m Jennifer Chu.

CURWOOD: And you’re listening to Living on Earth.

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[MUSIC: “Ancient Poem in Three Verses” CHINA: SPIRIT AND WISDOM (Ellipsis Arts) 1998]



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