I give up…

Sometimes it is the little things that get you down.  Like Congress trying to decide whether or not pizza should be considered a vegetable.  “Vegetable,” in this case, means whether or not pizza can ‘count’ towards a serving of vegetables for the US school lunch food program.

A few years ago, Washington wanted us to believe that ketchup should be considered a vegetable.  A few years before that, they wanted to reclassify salsa as a vegetable.  I think that most sane people would agree that eating some salsa on some chips or eating some ketchup on a hamburger is not a substitute for a salad or carrots or an ear of corn.

The mendacity of the whole process by which Congress decides what children should eat is revealed by this quote from a pro-pizza-as-vegetable lobbyist from the American Frozen Food Institute “If the USDA rule went forward as is, pizza would most certainly be all but impossible to serve in school lunch programs,” said Corey Henry, a spokesman for the American Frozen Food Institute.  “Schools have to meet nutrition requirements at every meal to get reimbursed by the federal government. To get a vegetable credit using tomato paste under the USDA’s proposed rule, schools would have to drown pizza in tomato sauce to the point where kids would never want to eat a slice of pizza. If schools have to add so much sauce to get a vegetable credit that pizza becomes inedible, they simply won’t serve pizza any longer.”

In other words, Mr. Henry is saying that in order to get pizza paid for by the tax payer, they would have to add more actual vegetable matter to the pizza.  But adding more vegetables to the pizza in order to make it qualify as a vegetable might make the kids like it less, therefore the solution is to just change the definition of what a vegetable is to include pizza so that the companies that sell pizza to schools can continue to make money off of the taxpayer.

Why stop there?  I’m sure the candy manufacturers would love it if we redefined ‘jellybeans’ as a vegetable.  Heck, it even has ‘bean’ in the name so it’s gotta be a vegetable, right?  And who says something even needs to be edible in order to qualify as a vegetable?  I’m sure the makers of paper clips would love to get some school lunch program money, so why not reclassify paperclips as a vegetable, too?

No wonder our education system is totally jacked up.

8 Comments on “I give up…”

  1. They haven’t thought this through, clearly. The majority of mass in any pizza is the crust. The crust is made from flour, almost entirely. The flour consists entirely of wheat. Wheat is most certainly neither a mineral or animal, and therefore must be a vegetable. Thus, pizza is almost entirely vegetable.. matter.


  2. Boric G says:

    That being said, I no more want the First Lady directing us what to feed children than I do Congress.
    I’m just sayin’.

    • me says:

      Well, to be fair, Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” deal is more just positive PR than anything else; it certainly isn’t law. It’s just her saying that having your kids eat apples and do jumping jacks is good for them. Much like Nancy Reagan told kids to , “Just say no.”
      For the record, I doubt Nancy Reagan’s or Michele Obama’s good deed campaigns do much more than provide their husbands with some good PR, but since at least Eleanor Roosevelt (or maybe even before), it has been traditional for the First Lady to embrace some social cause like good nutrition (Obama and Roosevelt), benefits of being drug free (Reagan), education (Barbara Bush), etc.
      The USDA requirements are supposed to stop unscrupulous administrators/suppliers from screwing the tax payer. If the food lobby gets to rewrite the requirements to their own profit and turn pizza into a vegetable through legislative sleight of hand, then I think kids and parents (and the taxpayer) are getting robbed.

  3. 1d30 says:

    I think they count grain as different from vegetable, even though they are both plants.

    When I read the quote by the nasty frozen pizza dude, I thought he was giving a clever solution to schools that serve terrible pizza: if you make it so the pizza doesn’t hel toward meeting their nutrition requirements, they will stop serving it. Excellent! But he was arguing that bad food should be regarded as good so that schools will keep buying his bad food. I bet he sleeps well at night!

    • me says:

      Right you are — when you are talking diet, a grain is not a ‘vegetable’ (even though it is a plant). Eating nothing but processed flours instead of a mix of foods is a one way ticket to bowel cancer and other disappointments. And I’m pretty sure Migelito was kidding about flour being a vegetable.

  4. FreeThinker says:

    This gets back to what’s wrong with the american government – politicians need so much money to get elected every 4 years, that they are suseptible to lobbyists buying their support. And large businesses have found that it’s cheaper to buy a bunch of politicians to pass laws that will make you money than it is to invest directly in growing your sales or increasing your productivity.

    I’m always amazed at how much money the US government funnels directly to private businesses. Forget the Military-Industrial Complex, nowadays every big business is in on the game.

    And so we have laws like ‘Pizza is a vegetable’.

  5. Justin says:

    It certainly is depressing when you see how US school lunches compare with others from around the world. I’m not sure about all the others but I can verify the South Korean one. http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/what-school-lunches-look-like-in-20-countries-arou

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