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Is Pizza Really A Vegetable?

November 21, 2011

I crave basically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, about 364 days a year. So, when I was on “” last night to look up synonyms for the word “insight” and the front page featured an article entitled “Is Pizza Really A Vegetable?” I had to click on it.

My Favorite Vegetable

This is “Food Week” here on HangryHippo, and I’m so glad that I had a brainfart last night and couldn’t think of any synonyms, because this article was really fascinating.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture—which regulates the school lunches served to millions of American children—proposed a new standard for school lunches. Specifically, they suggested reducing the amount of sodium in school lunches, and they also wanted to cut down on french fries and pizza. As it stands, two tablespoons of tomato paste (the amount that goes on a one-serving pizza) counts as a vegetable. The USDA suggested raising that to half a cup, which would mean that a one-serving pizza would no longer be a vegetable. Last week, Congress nixed these new regulations and reaffirmed that two tablespoons of tomato paste counts as a vegetable.

There are so many points in those few sentences which need to be dealt with: 1) The USDA is making positive strides forward with school lunch proposals…and Congress is shooting them down. Absurd and frustrating on so many levels. For why? 2) How is two tablespoons of tomato paste a vegetable? Isn’t tomato a fruit? And, more importantly, are they using tomato paste without any added sugars or preservatives? 3) Why would half a cup of tomato paste not be a vegetable but 2 tablespoons is? 4) What about the oils, cheese, and carbohydrates in pizza? Do these 2 tablespoons of tomato paste override all of the unhealthy factors, therefore rendering the entire entity a vegetable?

So, while we are battling a nationwide obesity epidemic, Congress is deciding that the “vegetable” part of a school lunch meal is pizza? I can’t imagine why? Could it be that 2 tablespoons of tomato paste is cheaper than half a cup? Could it be that giant food corporations–such as PepsiCo which owns Pizza Hut–have anything to do with these regulations? Why is Congress not paying attention the fact that “medical spending averages $1,400 more a year for someone who’s obese than for someone who’s not” and instituting programs to combat obesity instead of potentially aid it? Is this what we want to teach our future generations? “Oh yes, child, I know the USDA recommends ‘making half your plate fruits and veggies’ so let’s pile on the pizza and canned peaches!” I love pizza probably more than the next guy, but even I am appalled by this. WWMOD? (What Would Michelle Obama Do?)

(Mouthwatering vegetable photo courtesy of MyPizzaBrothers)


(Also, for pure enjoyment purposes, my favorite comment on the original article:

This is absurd. I love pizza. Who doesn’t love pizza? It’s not a vegetable. The argument that it classifies as one because it has tomato sauce on it–Are you kidding me? So anything with vegetables on it is now a vegetable itself? So if you put some mashed potatoes on a steak, it’s a vegetable? Get real. What is this, really? Is this a prank? If not, perhaps this is a futile attempt to deter Americans from eating pizza since it supposedly classifies as a “vegetable” so that we may become a more fit nation as most people essentially detest vegetables. Sorry, it won’t work. Pizza is delicious. Or are we are such a fat nation that we now genuinely consider anything with vegetables on it a vegetable… for real? Come on, now.)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe permalink
    November 21, 2011 7:52 pm

    but pizza is sooo delicious! i agree that it isn’t a vegetable and is usually very unhealthy but nonetheless it is definitely delicious. thanks for bringing this to our attention hh!

  2. Streetflash permalink
    November 22, 2011 5:59 pm

    A plug from Food Corps:

    November, 2011
    Dear Friends,

    Last week Congress declared that pizza is a vegetable.

    We don’t know about you, but we wish our Congresspeople were students again, and could spend a little time with a FoodCorps service member. That way, they could have hands-on experience with real fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, over 24,000 kids across the country have gotten that chance so far this year. And the results have been impressive.

    Just ask Eva Muraga, 10 years old, who told the Boston Globe: “We get excited to eat things we usually don’t like, like broccoli, spinach, peas and carrots. We grew it, so we like it a lot more.”

    Since August, our FoodCorps service members have been busy tending to school gardens, teaching kids about delicious and nutritious snacks, and improving the menus in school cafeterias across America.

    We can all agree that America’s children deserve to know what healthy food is and have access to it in their cafeterias. The health of our nation depends on it.

    Please join the FoodCorps team in changing how kids think about food. Your donation at any level puts real vegetables onto lunch trays.

    donate now >>

    With gratitude,

    Curt, Deb, Cecily and the FoodCorps team


  1. Health, Children, and the Government « Hangry Hippo

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