Crop geneticist Charles R. Brown has spent a decade working to make a better potato. In the beginning, he focused on beefing up the familiar white-fleshed tuber. His strategy was to recapture healthful traits from old-style spuds from the plant's native range in South America. He examined many yellow, red, and purple potatoes, none of which grows well in a U.S. climate. While cross breeding these imports with their northern cousins, Brown and his coworkers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory in Prosser, Wash., began hearing about putative health benefits from the type of pigments, called flavonoids, that give the potatoes their color.
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