"Pizza will be considered a vegetable" sounds like the punchline to a hackneyed "When Herman Cain is President…" joke, but it's also something more consequential: longstanding government policy.
Of course, counting pizza as a vegetable is more complicated than seeding a pizza plant in Michelle Obama's organic garden and stuffing the sprouts into the capacious maws of America's schoolchildren.
When Congress blocked Department of Agriculture regulations aimed at making school lunches healthier last year, members of Congress didn't literally declare pizza itself a vegetable. Rather, they ensured that tomato paste continued to receive special treatment under school lunch regulations. Just an eighth of a cup of tomato paste is credited with as much nutritional value as half a cup of vegetables, which means a smear of paste layered beneath a topping of cheese slop may count as a vegetable serving.
Now, a spoilsport Democrat is introducing the SLICE Act to overturn last year's pro-frozen pizza rule-making…
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced a bill Monday to stop the amount of tomato paste used on a children's slice of pizza from counting as a serving of vegetables in school lunches, arguing that the standard effectively qualifies pizza as a vegetable.
He said he hopes the measure can be included in this year's farm bill.
"Pizza has a place in school meals but equating it with broccoli, carrots and celery seriously undermines this nation’s efforts to support children’s health," a fact sheet from Polis's office stated.
No doubt Polis just wants to improve childhood nutrition, but is nothing sacred anymore?
Next, Congressional liberals will be telling me that my acquisitions of Miracle Whip aren't eligible for a tax deduction as purchases of religious paraphernalia. Or that my Reaganesque Jelly bean habit doesn't count as legume consumption. Or that the olive martini I have while writing about food policy isn't any more of a vegetable than pizza.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: Children, Food, House of Representatives, Jared Polis