Pizza in not a vegetable. Vegetables are vegetables.

Tuesday the United States Congress announced frozen pizza counts as vegetable when served to children in school lunches. While the USDA fought for increasing the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in school cafeterias the US Congress instead declared that the tomato paste on frozen pizza qualified it as a vegetable. If you're already a reader of my blog then I hope we both agree that the statement "frozen tomato paste is vegetable" is deceitful. If you need convincing then please read the actual ingredients in the tomato paste: water, tomato paste (31 percent Natural Tomato Soluble Solids*), pizza seasoning (salt, sugar, spices, dehydrated onion, guar and xanthan gum, garlic powder, potassium sorbate, citric acid, tricalcium phophate and soybean oil (prevent caking)), modified food starch). 

What I gather from that ingredient list is the tomato paste is mostly water, 31% tomato and a lot of seasoning. Does 31% of a tomato make up for the amount of over-processed, carb-loaded crust and cheese that the kids also eat while trying to get to the tomato? We're a nation of land!!! A nation of ambitious people who are looking for jobs. We should be growing fresh fruits and vegetables locally for children to eat it schools. A vegetable should be an actual vegetable. That is doable and within reason.

Hey, I am NOT saying that we should stop serving pizza to kids at school. I know how much I looked forward to my 4x6 rectangle of pizza every Friday at Austin Elementary. Far be it from me to deprive school kids of Pizza Friday. But I also do not want to teach children that pizza counts as a vegetable. American children need to learn how to eat healthy real foods and they need to be led by example. The example this law sets is a decietful embarrassment. 

To read  more about the pizza debate check out Kristin Wartman's article in the Huffington Post. She goes into why Congress would make such a ridiculous decision and explains who is really benefiting (Big Ag). To get involved and tell Congress they're wrong there are a number of petitions that need your signature now:
Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution - click here to sign
Food Democracy Now - click here to sign 
Slow Food USA - it's too late to sign this petition but you can still sign up for email updates - click here

*Referred to as "NTSS" - The commercial packers crush ripened red tomatoes; strain out skins, seeds, and other non-soluble solids. The evaporators are used to reduce moisture under vacuum. Under vacuum, the liquids boil at 135 to 145º F. This helps to preserve the tomato flavors.  At home, if one would reduce the liquids, they would boil, and then simmer for a long time. Both the high boiling temperature (212º F) and long cooking time contribute to loss of flavor.