It’s easy to get sidetracked by the media’s outrage over Congress declaring pizza a vegetable.
That’s not really what happened.
Congress wants to reduce spending, and it can cut a little from food program budgets by allowing the tomato paste on pizza to be declared a vegetable, which allows it to fit under nutrition standards.
That’s not so unreasonable.
Many tax-paying Americans, especially those who work in small businesses, agree that spending must be curtailed. It would be a shame if pizza sauce truly replaced fresh broccoli as an item in a child’s taxpayer-funded school lunch.
But that’s not the case, at least not yet.
Fruits and vegetables have a higher profile at the government funding level than ever before.
Meanwhile, potatoes also got a seal of approval in the conference negotiation that declared the U.S. Department of Agriculture is not allowed to limit servings of any vegetable.
The U.S. potato industry now needs to change course from lobbying to keep potatoes in school programs to emphasizing fresh potatoes, not the fried variety, in school meals.
Also in the legislation is an increase in the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, which has had success integrating fresh produce.
It’s true that people, especially children, don’t eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables. But the problems are more than just pizza and school lunch-related issues. They’re rooted in taste, availability and price as much as anything.
The industry needs to keep its eye on improving these attributes for consumers, as it has been doing.
Leave the pizza outrage to the pundits and nutritionists.
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