In a bizarre move, Congress announced last Tuesday that frozen pizza was a vegetable, rebuking new USDA guidelines for school lunches that would have led to an increase in fresh fruit and vegetables in school cafeterias.
Bowing to large food companies, and ignoring science (and simple logic), US Congress announced that the tomato paste on frozen pizza qualified it as a vegetable. American politicians seemed to either miss or disregard the fact that tomatoes are actually a fruit and not a vegetable, not to mention the fact that the tomato paste on frozen pizza is full of sugar, chemicals and other NON-VEGETABLE, UNHEALTHY ingredients.
Still, it’s hard to act surprised at this move. After all, big food companies have spent $5.6 million lobbying against new rules. How much pocket-money have kids spent on lobbying? Exactly.
Many conservative US politicians also believe that the government shouldn’t tell people what to eat, even in school cafeterias. But these same conservatives don’t seem to mind big food companies telling people what to eat…
As the Huffington Post reports:
“Herein lies the brilliance of the food industry — not only has it created a myriad of products but it also created the idea that children want industrial food products above all else. While most Americans have bought into this notion, it’s simply not true. Children 100 years ago couldn’t have possibly eaten the industrial foods they are eating today…
…The food industry literally shapes and changes the palates of our children. Constantly eating sugary, salty and fatty food products adjusts taste preference to the point that simple, real foods taste bland and unappealing. While the food industry insists that it only advertises to children “to influence brand preference,” a study published in the journal Appetite found that the food industry works to, “fundamentally change children’s taste palates to increase their liking of highly processed and less nutritious foods.”
But while Congress is happy to cater for the food corporations, the rising obesity problem in the US is getting worse. Big companies are making big money from people’s ill health, from children’s poor diets, while Congress blocks new guidelines that could actually help improve kids’ diets.
CNN reported that nearly 1 in 5 four-year-olds are obese in America, and the problem is getting so bad that even military figures are starting to worry; the Associated Press reports that: “a group of retired generals advocating for healthier school lunches also criticized the spending bill.”
The group has stated that poor nutrition in schools is a ‘national security issue’ because obesity is a leading medical disqualifier for military service.
Amy Dawson Taggart, the director of the group, said in a letter to members of Congress: “We are outraged that Congress is seriously considering language that would effectively categorize pizza as a vegetable in the school lunch program. It doesn’t take an advanced degree in nutrition to call this a national disgrace.”
- Kristin Wartman: Pizza is a Vegetable? Congress Defies Logic, Betrays Our Children (huffingtonpost.com)