Can I Have Your Attention Please: Pizza Is Now a Veggie!

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you’ve undoubtedly seen or heard the news that Congress has passed a bill stating that, as far as children’s school lunches go, pizza is now a vegetable.

Well, to be more precise, the tomato paste on a slice of pizza counts as a vegetable. But WTF, right?

Here are a few links in case you missed it.

NPR

New York Times

Fox News

And the list goes on and on.  Every major news outlet has covered the story one way or another, from the Washington Post to the Chicago Tribune, and regardless of where you heard it, if you’re like me, you’re probably resisting the urge to want to throw face through a window.

Really?  Pizza is going to be counted as a vegetable?

I’m just wondering what’s next:  Pop Tarts being recognized as a fruit?

This is an epic fail by Congress.  And it boggles my mind that, even for a second, this is the type of nonsense they’re concentrating their efforts on.  I mean, it’s not like we have a financial crisis, two wars, skyrocketing unemployment rates, and another Twilight movie to be more concerned about.

It’s pretty pathetic and downright disheartening that our politicians are placing the interests of corporate America a head of that of children.

Is it any wonder, then, why Congress’ approval rating has taken a nosedive in recent months?  After this fiasco,  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Hepatitis C is ahead of them in the polls.  Ohhhhhhh snap.  Count it!

What gets me, though, is that in one of the stories I read, the main argument against healthier food options in school cafeterias is that the tax payers would bear the burden of the costs.

To quote:

This is an important step for the school districts, parents and taxpayers who would shoulder the burden of U.S.D.A.’s proposed $6.8 billion school meal regulation that will not increase the delivery of key nutrients,” said John Keeling, executive vice president and chief executive of the National Potato Council.

The Agriculture Department had estimated that the proposal would have cost about $6.8 billion over the next five years, adding about 14 cents a meal to the cost of a school lunch.

Okay, so what?  14 cents?  Big deal.

I was having a conversation this weekend with Diana Cutia, the Wheelock College athletic director, and she stated that she attended a meeting last week where it was noted that upwards of 50% of FIRST GRADERS in the city of Boston were considered over-weight.

I don’t know about you, but as a tax payer I’d rather suck it up and spend the additional money now to ensure that kids are indeed getting proper nutrition at school – and education: it would be nice if they could recognize that a carrot is not the same as carrot cake – than pay tenfold the amount later on treating a twelve year old with type II diabetes.

And lest we forget, tomatoes are a fruit and not a vegetable.  God, Congress can’t get anything right!

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  • Mike

    Poptarts aren’t fruit?!?! Now I’m sure you’re going to tell me eggs are healthy. . . . .

  • Alicia

    Our youngest generation is the first ever not expected to live as long as their parents and right now one third of American juveniles are considered obese. Our kids did not fall into this lifestyle overnight or by accident. I’ll date myself by reminding readers that the Reagan administration considered ketchup packets a vegetable. Shortchanging kids in response to agribusiness and economic pressures crosses party lines but always sticks it to the citizens with least representation. Studies have concluded that physical activity enhances cognitive thinking but that didn’t stop Physical Education classes being considered an unnecessary elective or eliminated completely.

    Is it the parents’ responsibility to maintian the health of their kids? You are GD right! But children receive 12 years of full-time education and deserve more than to be semi-proficient at math and science; they deserve a well-rounded education that makes them both smart and healthy! By ignoring this opportunity we are short-changing their futures as vigorous adults – and the nation as a whole will most certainly pay the price in the coming years. Now for the love of God go bang out 50 push-ups and eat an apple.

    • Anonymous

      Well said Alicia! I remember back when I was in elementary school – and even high school – where it was required that we go through a physical fitness test. What’s more, while the cafeteria food was crap – at best – I do remember there being plenty of fruit and vegetables available to choose from.

      Now, as you noted, physical education classes are an afterthought. And apple danishes have taken the place of apples. For what? To be ranked 37th in the world in science and math proficiency? Awesome.

      It’s clear that corporate America has the tentacles in EVERYTHING, and that our government has no interest in what’s good for the people as a whole. It’s a sad state of affairs indeed.

  • “I’d rather suck it up and spend the additional money now to ensure that kids are indeed getting proper nutrition at school… than pay tenfold the amount later on treating a twelve year old with type II diabetes.”

    This x 1,000,000. The cost (in literal money) to our society for Generation: Fat is going to be incalculable. The cost in quality of life unfathomable. But hey, maybe all these kids will drop dead before they’re eligible for Social Security, and we’ll make the money up there. This is one of those issues that makes me profoundly sad.

  • Stephane Robert

    I thought fruit cups in syrup was bad enough to be considered a serving of fruit, but pizza? Come on!

  • Sadly it is all to benefit those who are already on top by adding an extra zero to their salary. They feel as if it should be up to natural selection to decide whether a kid grows up fat or not rather than intervening and saying enough is enough. I grew up on nasty frozen pizza, spaghetti day and (insert meat here) nuggets but my kids will not.

    Obama tried to oppose it but as we all know he is classified as a potato. Just sayin’

  • R Smith

    Nothing surprises me anymore. We live in a nation where one child in three is overweight (accounting for school age and non-school age), 2/3 of Americans overall are overweight or obese, and obesity-related healthcare costs now exceeds $200 billion a year. Even so, we still think it’s OK to give our kids 1,500-calorie meals and snacks loaded with ingredients that would make a chemist blush.

  • Thanks for making me feel guilty about carrot cake. A patient brought us a HUGE one this morning 🙁

  • Next thing you know sitting will count as exercise for the day.

  • Next thing you know sitting will count as exercise.

  • ROZIN ABBAS!!!!!!!!!!

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with pizza. Pizza can be a very nutritious and “healthy” (whatever that means as it differs from person to person) food item. The issue arises from the pizza sold to kids is probably just dough, a dash of tomato sauce and cheese.

    My pizzas usually contain 4-5 servings of vegetables and sometimes 2 servings of fruit.

    But I see the issue at hand. Classifying pizza as a vegetable when it’s probably just a cheese pizza is hilarious.

  • Tasha Brown

    Or we could just pack our kids’ lunches? I have 4 of those little boogers under my roof, and school lunch costs aren’t justified now, nor would the extra $.14 per meal. If my kids were to purchase lunch every day at school, that would be $51.25/week for me, and that’s for the unhealthy options. I personally would rather just send them to lunch with food of my own choosing. I can definitely send them a healthier lunch for a LOT less money.

  • Nock

    Tony and Everyone,

    Check out this TED talk by chef Jamie Oliver that breaks down the epidemic of Obesity. Probably one of the best talks on Obesity I have ever heard.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver.html

    • Anonymous

      Nock –

      I’ve actually linked to that video on my blog in the past. Jamie Oliver is the man!

  • Brett

    Yep, this is pretty crazy. What I thinks good here in Australia is that students eat there meals outdoors during lunch, I used to be selective to what I would bother eating because we would be rushing to go play sport during our break. I think eating in a bleak cafeteria off a production line menu is a big problem for those kids. It’s a big issue.

  • Ben
    • Anonymous

      Thanks Ben. As I noted in my blog, I mentioned it was tomato paste that was the real issue, and not pizza.

      The whole “pizza is a vegetable” thing just got people to click on the link…..;o)

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  • I enjoyed your article bro, however I would argue that the pussification of our society feeds into this more than anything. No pun intended. With the exponential growth of technology spitting out wildly addictive games such as the Playstation and Xbox I would refer to our friend @Niel that sitting has already become a sport. Kids do less outdoors and living an active lifestyle now than ever before. Granted I think the nutrition thing is ridiculous, but the whole lifestyle factor starts in the home. You can’t depend on government for anydamnthing, so why start now. Great article as always Tony! Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving. 🙂

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