A pizza by any other name: politics a new ingredient

Illustration by Hannah Swann

Sylvia Wertz
Columnist

Illustration by Hannah Swann

When you looked for vegetables to serve along with your holiday meals, I hope you included pizza.

I’ve been following the headlines about the U.S. Congress’s ruling that the favorite staple lunch of school children, pizza, is to be considered a vegetable. The discussion is focused on the key ingredient, tomato paste and whether there is enough included on the pizza to be considered a serving of vegetables.

No amount of tomato sauce makes pizza a vegetable.

The justification, even if only for technicality’s sake, doesn’t seem right, especially considering the growing rates of childhood obesity in America. There may be enough tomato to count as a serving of vegetable, but what about the rest to the pizza?

Between the wheat of the crust, the dairy of the cheese and meat of the pepperoni, if chosen, the very idea that pizza could even remotely be considered a vegetable is negated by the amount of grease and fat included.

A piece with less grease and less fat could be considered a “healthy option” but not a “vegetable.” Even though there is a serving of vegetables the pizza itself should not be a vegetable. There are too many other ingredients to consider.

As always, controversy has sprung up on the classification with this new ruling. It does matter for the future of all pizza eaters and from the nutritional stand point that with one ruling like this others are still to come, like lasagna maybe. We should leave all this up to our own discretion.

Litigation and bureaucracy have once again blindsided Americans from a truly worthy cause. While Congress can justify their decision by citing nutritional policies, the necessities of the federal school meal program and legislative limitations, they’ve still missed a valuable opportunity to alter the dynamics of our nation’s politics.

Instead of fueling the flames of Twitter and allowing headlines to read “Congress declares pizza to be a vegetable,” legislators could have used this as a chance to right past wrongs and restructured the current policies in favor of healthier school meals that don’t include pizza. Surely the headline “Congress bans pizza from schools” would be more favorable and boost Congress’s 8 percent approval rating to at least 10 percent.

Or Congress could have stepped aside altogether. Wouldn’t it be better if the USDA alone decided what a vegetable is and what isn’t? Not that the U. S. Congress isn’t a capable body of decision-making, but shouldn’t matters of nutrition be left to the experts?

The bottom line is that Congress acted irresponsible by allowing inexpensive pizzas to parade into schools under the technical guise of being the equivalent to a serving of vegetables. Children need responsible role models and real nutrition, not posturing politicians looking out for businesses.

As a college student and a pizza eater, I think that I’m getting a full serving of everything rather than just a vegetable. I take into account that there are different values to a slice, but more often than not, it consists of my entire meal.

I’m independently responsible for the choices I make. Elementary schoolers aren’t.

Other than hearing lame jokes from students that pile pizzas on their plates at Shafer and declare themselves to be vegetarians, this issue has little consequence to us college students. As the infamous myth of the Freshmen 15 shows us, we eat whatever we want. But the sheer ridiculousness of this issue displays the rot within Congress and the necessity that we act to cleanse ourselves of it.

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