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Potato Breeders Create Colorful Spuds

Potato breeding programs add some color so that the tuber's appeal doesn't go stale.

By Leah ShafferJune 2, 2015 4:59 PM
Breeding flashy-colored potatoes can take 12 to 14 years. | rvlsoft/Shutterstock


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Per capita potato consumption dropped to an all-time low recently. To boost consumer interest, American potato breeding programs are selectively breeding smaller, more colorful varieties.

The flashier hues mean more phytonutrients, compounds linked to a variety of health benefits, and their compact size means shorter cooking times.

Breeding those traits takes 12 to 14 years, says Texas A&M program director J. Creighton Miller Jr., but you won’t have to wait that long to see one of the program’s newest creations, a variety called peppermint. It sports white skin speckled with red, and it could arrive in stores later this year.

Don’t worry; the name only reflects the potato’s color, not its flavor.

[This article originally appeared in print as "Stylish Spuds."]

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