Pizza is officially a vegetable

Or so the American Congress thinks.

In the first review of school lunches in 15 years, Congress has backed down from insisting that a pizza needs to have half a cup of tomato paste to be called a vegetable (compared to the current two tablespoons):

Corey Henry, a spokesman for the American Frozen Food Institute, said the proposed rules simply did not make sense, especially when it came to pizza.

The industry backs the current rules which say that about a quarter-cup of tomato paste on a slice of pizza can count as a vegetable serving. The Agriculture Department proposal would have required that schools serve more tomato paste per piece of pizza to get a vegetable credit, an idea the industry thought would make pizza unappetizing.

Apparently adding more tomato to a pizza would make it less tasty, and if an impartial judge like the American Frozen Food Institute believes this then who are we to argue?

“It would basically be swimming in tomato sauce,” said Corey Henry, vice president of communications at the American Frozen Food Institute. “No school kid in his right mind would want to eat that.”

(source)

We’ll ignore for a second that tomatoes are actually fruit, and that the tomato paste on pizzas has a massive amount of added sugar in it (around one and a half teaspoons of sugar for a pizza’s quarter cup of paste), and just look at the simple truth here: pizza is not a vegetable. It is dough, a thin spread of something vaguely derived from tomatoes, with melted high-fat solidified dairy produce on top. I love pizza, I really do, but I’ve got no illusions about them.

Calling pizza a suitable source of vegetables for growing children is not only a lie, it is harmful to their health, their future wellbeing and relationship with food, and evidence of corruption by politicians bowing to industrial pressures. That’s just one small choice that we know about. At what point is good sense going to kick in and fix this, how long will it take?

2 thoughts on “Pizza is officially a vegetable”

  1. Okay, a couple things.

    – Nobody said Pizza is a Vegetable. What was said is that by adding more tomato sauce to the Pizza commonly served in schools, it could make the pizza more nutritious.
    – Tomatos are technically fruits, but nutritionally they are closer to vegetables. There is lots of confusion around this.
    – The Pizza served in schools is not fucking Pizza Hut. It’s made to be a lot healthier. It’s certainly less greasy.

    You say we should “fix this”, but I’m having a hard time understanding what needs fixing. If they took it away from me when I was a kid I’d be fucking angry, the other meals are so boring and healthy, the days they served pizza were great days.

    Basically, American schools serve generally healthy food, which is more than you can say about food served almost anywhere else. If you want to make a valid point, try not relying on the “Pizza is a Vegetable” troll.

  2. A direct quote from The New York Times: “A slice of pizza still counts as a vegetable.” I’m not sure how I’m trolling by pointing out how something covered in melted cheese with a very thin spread of pizza sauce (which is about two teaspoons of actual tomato paste) can be considered similar to half a cup of vegetables.

    What they need to fix is politicians putting industry pressures ahead of the health and wellbeing of the population, especially children. Telling children that pizza is a suitable source of vegetables is not a good lesson for establishing healthy eating patterns in future life.

    Healthy food does not have to be boring. If the schools are not making interesting healthy meals, to the point where pizza is the only exciting thing on the menu, then they are letting children down. Healthy stir fry, fresh curry, tortilla wraps – all of these can be delicious, healthy, and provide much more nutritional value than pizza.

    It took 15 years since the last review of food standards in schools, so are pizzas going to be deemed as a healthy option for another 15 years? I love pizza, but I’m under no illusions about them being good for me.

    Children getting ‘fucking angry’ about not being served pizza is pretty worrying. It’s the duty of schools to help parents educate their children about having a healthy balanced diet that they can sustain for their whole lives. If children are getting angry about not being given junk food then that suggests that a good appreciation for healthy options is not being developed.

    Read both of the links. If you still think I’m being unfair by portraying this move as a wasted opportunity then we’ll have to agree to disagre.

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