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 letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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madison
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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sorry congress but pizza is not a vegetable. just because you eat vegetables doesn’t mean that pizza is.


Caleb
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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I never knew that


michele
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Oh okay, so pizza’s a vegetable? Is mu computer a vegetable too?


Larry
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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The problem is that reality and the legislature, any of them, rarely have much in common.

Many years ago one of the state legislatures passed a law making the value of pi equal to 3.0. The goal was to make it easier on arithmetic students.


Etta
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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In reality, tomato paste (or most tomato pastes, anyway) is simply concentrated, canned (or tubed) tomato. I’ve never seen one that included sugar in its ingredients. Yes, it does allow for pizza as a lunch because it INCLUDES veg. However, if the legislation merely rates tomato paste as a vegetable, isn’t this a logical extension of Nix vs. Hedden? No, this has absolutely nothing to do with their actual nutritional value, but does anyone think the US government should really be in charge of the nutrition of our children? I’m pretty sure that’s the job of their parents/guardians.


Shawn
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Pizza is now a vegetable? So is my grandmother.. weird.


Weicker
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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This wasn’t about pizza; it’s about the classification of 1/4 cup of tomato paste being considered an equivalent to 1/2 cup of any other fruit or vegetable. If you look at the nutrition profiles, they’re pretty similar. An eighth of a cup of tomato paste isn’t terribly different than 1/2 cup of raw, sliced apples or a small orange. The paste has a bit more sodium, but not an exhorbitant amount.


Stevo
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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This just gives americans more of an excuse to get an even bigger portion


LCpl
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Wow, this article wreaks of spin, and that’s exactly what it is.

For the last few administrations, 1/8th cup of tomato paste counted as one 1/2 cup serving of vegetables (a x4 multiplier) due to it being a concentrate and having near identicle (if not better) nutritional values than 1/2 cup of apples.

Recently, some lobbying attempted to make 1/8th cup tomato paste count as only 1/8th cup tomato paste.

All congress did was say, “um, no, its nutritional value puts 1/8th cup tomato paste closer to 1/2 cup vegetable, and so it shall stay”

there was no pizza argument involved.

Poor journalism is poor. But It doesn’t matter, because 98% of readers are sheep.


Jeremy
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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this is awesome i can’t believe pizza is now a vegetable.


Clare
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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One reality is that more and more kids are being fed by the federal and state governments at school. There is also a childhood obesity epidemic that is affecting health care costs. Perhaps that “ounce of prevention” is well worth putting into practice here, as we know that the “pound of cure” is a very heavy cost. Pizza and french fries aren’t the healthy way to feed children.