Is Pizza A Vegetable?

November 21,2011
Lindsay Hutton( )

Ask any child that question, and chances are you'd get a resounding, "YES!"

After all, what child would put up a fight about eating his veggies if pizza was one of the choices?

And a new bill approved by Congress makes this dream a reality. The Agriculture Appropriations bill does, in fact, make pizza a vegetable.

Let's back track-- the pizza itself isn't a vegetable. But the tomato sauce on each slice is.

In general, one serving of vegetables is half a cup. The USDA moved to block pizza being counted as a veggie, unless it contained the half a cup of tomato sauce. According to some food companies, half a cup of tomato sauce would make a slice of pizza virtually inedible. (A good sign that each slice doesn't, in fact, contain enough to constitute a serving.)

However, the new bill blocks the USDA from being allowed to spend money to measure how much each slice has, making it impossible to know how much tomato sauce is on each slice-- and therefore allowing school menu's to count it as a serving of vegetables.

The bill also wouldn't allow the USDA to spend money on reducing sodium in school meals beyond what they proposed for the first four years after the rules are in place.

(For what it's worth, school lunches contain more than half of a child's recommended daily sodium intake.)

In addition, the new bill prevents the USDA from limiting the amount of white potatoes, corn, lima beans, and green peas served.

In a country where childhood obesity is spiraling out of control, it goes without saying that these new measures have outraged parents and the general public alike.

While it can be argued that parents can send their children to school with a brown bag lunch, it boils down to the fact that some people just can't afford to do that. In fact, a school lunch is the most balanced meal of the day for many children coming from impoverished families.

If you look at it that way, it's pretty sad and scary that Congress would approve a bill that blatantly undermines the health of children in the interest of saving a few pennies.

Does this bill outrage you? What does your child eat for lunch? If you pack a lunch everyday, would you feel differently if he ate a school lunch everyday?

If you're looking for new, healthy ideas for lunch, check out our school lunch resources.