Pizza a vegetable? Congress saves dough over kids’ health
Recently, Congress stated that tomato paste, the basis of any good pizza, qualifies as a serving of your daily vegetables. Apparently, there is no need to eat your broccoli and carrots anymore, pizza will do just fine. Congress is taking the easy way out in finding healthy school meals that satisfy the regulation on the amount of vegetables served at lunch, while also saving the nation a few bucks.
School lunch lines bring to mind trays filled with cheeseburgers, chicken fingers and french fries, so as we quickly approach 2012, isn’t it our job to change the menu for the better? This is the government’s golden opportunity to influence how students eat for the rest of their lives. Giving them options like pizza and french fries gives the false impression that tomato paste and starchy-potatoes are good choices to fulfill that daily vegetable serving. Incidentally, the tomato is classified as a fruit.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued new guidelines and revisions for school lunches in early January. They proposed to increase the availability of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk, among many other things.
The pizza-loving lobbyists were left enraged and, according to The New York Times, spent $5.6 million lobbying against these new regulations. It’s understandable that organic and whole-grain foods cost a pretty-penny but it’s no reason for Congress to turn its back against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s regulations.
It’s embarrassing to see our government scrounging around for extra money instead of bettering our society by feeding children healthy, satisfying meals. Well fed and healthy students will always one-up the ill-fed students, who’s stomach are filled with pizza — er — I mean vegetables.
Who wants to eat celery, green beans and brown cardboard-like bread when one could settle for pizza and french fries that now satisfy the daily dietary requirements? Clearly, Congress is only looking out for our taste buds and the bottom line rather than our weight, sodium intake or health. Is it not clear to them that obesity is a rising epidemic? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that approximately 12.5 million children between the ages of 2-19 are obese. That’s clearly a problem, and giving them the not-so-healthy options at lunch doesn’t help at all.
Yes, foods that lack essential nutrients are cheaper and make it easier to feed so many hungry mouths, but the end result needs to be acknowledged as well. We say it’s okay to feed children chicken nuggets and french fries now, but what happens when the weight gain starts to set in or when diabetes diagnoses run rampant? Congress’s attempt to be frugal in these hard times will result in ballooning childhood obesity that will blow up in their faces.
— Rosie de Queljoe is a journalism freshman. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.