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According to Congress, pizza is a vegetable

what's next? beer as a good source of whole grains?

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/1...

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  1. Well, it's...more like a vegetable than ketchup is?

    1. Lest anyone wonder why our Keystone Kongress has a 13 percent
      approval rating. BTW, pizza is now a vegetable.

      1. Yum! I'm planting pepperoni pizza seeds, can't wait for spring harvest...

        2 Replies
        1. re: TrishUntrapped

          Is that a new hybird - or an heirloom?

        2. It's not pizza as a vegetable, it's the amount of tomato paste on it (or anything else) that is required to be considered a vegetable.

          3 Replies
          1. re: C. Hamster

            well obviously. no one's saying they consulted with expert botanists and horticulturists and have now officially classified it as a vegetable for scientific purposes. but the end result of the legislation is that when a schoolchild eats pizza for lunch, they've now supposedly eaten a serving of vegetables...even though they may have only consumed a teaspoon or two of tomato paste (which, BTW, is botanically a fruit anyway).

            it's like saying that the ice cream you ate for dessert counts as a serving of protein.

            1. re: C. Hamster

              Yes, quoting from the article:
              "Another provision bars the USDA from changing the way it credits tomato paste, used in pizza. The change would have required pizza to have at least a half-cup of tomato paste to qualify as a vegetable serving. Current rules, which likely will remain in place, require just two tablespoons of tomato paste."

              This thread subject line is a bit misleading. The 'now' implies that Congress made a change in how pizza is classed, or that some how kids will be served more pizza. What they have done is block a change. The Reuters headline is more accurate.

              1. re: paulj

                This thread subject line is a bit misleading.
                ~~~~~~~~
                you're right, my bad. i've asked the Mods to edit it for me.

            2. Except that tomato is a fruit.........

              1 Reply
              1. re: wincountrygirl

                see my parenthetical comment above :) but that's an entirely separate discussion, and a point i've raised more than once. makes me nuts every time i see claims like the one from Ragu that states "2 servings of veggies in every half cup."

              2. It's the exact same nonsense that now allows the companies that put out pasta sauce & canned pasta to claim that their products provide a full serving of "vegetables" per serving.

                1. Tomato paste is already considered a vegetable.

                  The USDA wanted to up the amount of it that would qualify.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    No matter how you slice it, calling a slice of pizza a vegetable is just one more way to stick it to the kids.

                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                      I remember how surprised I was to learn that a slushy was considered a serving of fruit at my son's elementary school. And than the school nurse had the balls to lecture the homeroom moms every year on the school's "nutritional policy" with regards to school parties, etc. The stupidity and hypocricy was really mind-blowing....

                      This is just one reason why my son takes his lunch from home.

                      1. re: flourgirl

                        Are you blaming the nurse? That hypocrisy probably has more to do with overlapping regulations, rather any one person's hypocrisy or stupidity. What's fruit or vegetable in the lunch room has a lot to do with USDA regulations, such as those discussed in the Congressional bill. And I believe those regulations are linked to lunch subsidies.

                        A school's nutritional policy may come from the district, or even school administration. The nurse could have been a part time employee tasked with giving this speech.

                        1. re: paulj

                          Yes, I am well aware of where the different regulations come from, thanks.

                          Like it or not, the nurse, who is a full time employee at that school, is part of the system that perpetuates this nonsense. And as a matter of fact, school nurses can have a great deal of power, as became quite evident to me in the years my son was in elementary school. And there are different ways of imparting information. She had a particularly supercilious way of doing so that was really really irritating - especially when she had to know about the nonsense going on in the cafeteria. And the worst part was that she also knew that, after several years of this nutritional policy being implemented, it was enforced very unevenly, depending on the teacher, etc.. Bottom line, she enjoyed lecturing the homeroom moms every year & I have very little patience for stupidity and hypocricy - and again, like it or not, it's stupid to be lecturing homeroom moms about sugar at the same time that the cafeteria is counting sugar laden slushies as a serving of fruit, no matter WHO promulgated the regulations. At some point, I expect people in the system to recognize the stupidity and do something about addressing it instead of just mindlessly going along with the nonsense and expecting everyone else to pretend that there's nothing crazy about the "rules." But that's the problem with bureuacracy, isn't it. It's all about passing the buck & refusing to take responsibility for anything except enforcing ridiculous regulations.

                        2. re: flourgirl

                          http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/menu/fmnv...

                          Foods of minimal nutritional value:
                          - soda water
                          - water ices
                          BUT " water ices which contain fruit or fruit juices are not included in this definition.'
                          - chewing gum
                          - certain candy

                          i suspect that slushy has enough fruit juice to qualify as nutritional

                    2. The best part of this was that in the article about this posted on the Huffington Post, some guy in the comments said something like, geez, stop whining, becuase guess what, pizza's biggest ingredient is WHEAT, a vegetable!

                      I love the internets.

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: jmckee

                          I know, that's why it was hilarious.

                      1. What gets me is all the folks whining about what is being served.... I've been there, actually had some great turkey gravy and potatoes yesterday with some school kids. They have these mini-salad bars that have dishes of several fruits and vegetables. The kids serve themselves, can take as much as they want. If you want kids to eat well while they are away from you, then teach them (at home) how to do that. The schools also have snacks during the day of fresh fruits and vegetables, several types. When I've seen pizza served, it's along with other foods, not JUST pizza.
                        and remember, the lunches need to cost the consumer only $2.25. $3.50 for the adults.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: wyogal

                          Not all schools have salad bars and homemade food. It varies a lot from state to state, and then between school systems and even individual schools.

                          1. re: mpjmph

                            It's not "home made", just well made in a school cafeteria, then shipped to elementary schools in warmers.
                            I still think that folks seem to want a $10 meal for $2.50. Teach your children about nutrition,and get involved in your local schools to get better food and choices. Don't wait for the federal government to do a family's or community's job.

                          2. re: wyogal

                            Please don't assume that every school is like that. Because, trust me, they're not. And I am VERY involved in my son's school. But no one cares what I have to say about where they purchase their food from. If you don't think that there is a lot of corruption involved in purchasing decisions in most schools, you are very naive.

                            1. re: flourgirl

                              You're absolutely correct about not assuming that every school is alike. If anyone believes that is true, they also believe in the tooth fairy and that what goes in Congress is "the will of the people"! I live in the Philadelphia area. Go to a city school in the north or west section of the city and see what their lunches look like - these are areas of high unemployment, low education and a lot of crime vs. areas in the southern part of the city that are, generally, white and Asian, where the opposite is the norm. Then go to the western suburbs, which are more like the north and west sections of the city vs. the northern suburbs which are more affluent, higher education, more costly homes, higher school taxes, etc. The food in the school cafeterias is vastly different. I'd venture to say that this is what you'll find across the entire country. There is no way you can lump all of the school districts in America into a group and say they're all alike. It's impossible to believe that what happens in a state like Montana, with a small population is akin to what's happening in north Philadelphia.

                              For a real eye-opener, check this thread - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/779029

                                1. re: RAGHOUND

                                  There was a thread a while back about a Chicago school that banned food from home. Apparently the field trip lunches that the kids brought were heavy on junk food. But many of the Chow posters saw such a policy as infringing on the rights of the parents to provide really nutritious food. Of course such a complaint would be more valid in a Whole Foods or Wegmans neighborhood, the the Chicago West Side.

                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/778133

                                  1. re: RAGHOUND

                                    In that French school thread, DiningDiva gives a good description of how the American school lunch program works
                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7790...

                              1. I think it was back in the 70's when our government got involved in what kids need to eat at school. Then the uproar was the notion that a ketchup packet with french fries equaled a vegetable serving.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                  in the 80's the Reagan Administration tried to pass legislation that would require the USDA to reclassify ketchup & relish as vegetables instead of condiments. as always, it was about money - a cost-cutting measure to save money on school lunch programs.

                                  the policy wasn't implemented - too much backlash & public outrage.

                                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                    The ketchup issue arose in the early Reagan years, as part of cost cutting measures. The change in classification (from condiment to vegetable) did not actually go through.

                                    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/r...

                                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                      The federal gov't got involved in school lunches in the 1940's, and concerns about nutrition vs. use of surplus foods have been around since then beginning.

                                    2. From the pizza/french fry industry"
                                      "Our concern is that the standards would force companies in many respects to change their products in a way that would make them unpalatable to students," Henry said.

                                      I find the same problem w/ math and English. It's unpalatable to kids so let's just have recess all day, with pizza and french fries for lunch. .;-p

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: chowser

                                        How much tomato sauce can you put on a slice of pizza and still make it palatable? It's been a long time size I had school pizza, but isn't there a problem with the cheese layer sliding off the sauce layer? Would they have to switch to deep dish pizza (with cheese on the bottom) to use enough sauce (as required by the blocked USDA regulations)?

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          That's, of course, assuming tomato sauce is the only vegetable that can be on a pizza. Or maybe they could try a thin whole wheat crust and possibly cut the cheese and add more vegetables, sprinkling of lean protein. That would be palatable, maybe not to all kids, hence my comment about making math and English more along the lines of what kids would like.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            One of the blocked USDA regulations had to do with whole grains. HR2112 blocks that till they come up with a better definition of 'whole grain'.

                                            Under the proposed USDA changes they could still serve pizza; it just couldn't be counted as a vegetable serving. So they would have to add a vegetable side, or add vegetables to the pizza. How would a onion, bell pepper, and eggplant pizza work?

                                      2. Serious issue going on in this country but this is the one thing they can agree on?

                                        This shows you what a good lobbyist can do. Who knew the pizza industry had such clout?

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Withnail42

                                          It should be noted that this is part of a major spending bill for the Dept of Agriculture etc. HR 2112. It is unclear whether this was added in committee or as part of some House floor amendment vote. if added in committee only a fraction of Congress voted on this specific item. The rest would have voted considering all the provisions of the bill.

                                          http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2011/11/17/...
                                          quotes the provision in HR2112

                                          "One of these items includes the prevention of heavy-handed school lunch regulations that would have cost financially strapped local school districts an estimated $7 billion over the next five years in compliance costs."
                                          http://halrogers.house.gov/News/Docum...
                                          Rep Hal Rogers, chair of the House Appropriations Committee

                                          http://democrats.appropriations.house...
                                          Committee minority report that mentions the 'pizza rule'
                                          http://appropriations.house.gov/Uploa...

                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                            The pizza folks were helped by the potato and salt lobbyists and the good folks from Krapt Foods

                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                              And don't leave out Coca-Cola who made sure that sodas were continued as part of school lunches so that we could continue to have the most obese children in the world! One more reason to ban all people who ever hold political office from becoming lobbyists.

                                              1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                Specifically what legislation (and when) do you have in mind?

                                                "Federal law prohibits the sale of soda as a Food of Minimal Nutritional Value (FMNV) in the cafeteria during the school lunch period."
                                                http://www.schoolnutrition.org/conten...

                                                Are you thinking of attempts by school districts or cities to ban sale of soda on campus, or from campus vending machines?

                                          2. http://www.washingtonpost.com/busines...

                                            seems to explain the situation better than most. According to current USDA rules, schools get 'credits' for each serving of 'vegetables or fruits'. For most fruit purees like applesauce, 1/2c counts as a serving. Tomato sauce, as used on pizza, qualifies at less than 1/8c. The new rules proposed treating tomato like other fruits - hence the 1/2c per pizza serving.

                                            Here's the provision in HR 2112 that blocks this

                                            "SEC. 743. None of the funds made available by this Act may
                                            be used to implement an interim final or final rule regarding
                                            nutrition programs ... that—
                                            (1) requires crediting of tomato paste and puree based
                                            on volume;
                                            (2) implements a sodium reduction target beyond Target
                                            I,...; and
                                            (3) establishes any whole grain requirement without
                                            defining ‘‘whole grain.’’"
                                            http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-11...

                                            1. I've got a new favorite vegetable.

                                                1. re: MplsM ary

                                                  I was just about to post a link myself - I loved that bit :)!

                                                2. If pizza is a vegetable, does that make pepper spray a condiment? :-)

                                                  1. Let's hear both sides of the story. According to pizza, Congress is a vegetable.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                      1. FN is weighing in on the school lunch issue, with a Chopped episode featuring 4 school cafeteria chefs and a White House judge
                                                        http://www.foodnetwork.com/chopped/cl...