The Daily Gamecock

Pizza not a vegetable, unacceptable

Federally funded meals must be nutritional Recently there has been uproar about Congress accepting pizza as a vegetable for school lunches. In my personal food pyramid, pizza definitely falls into the vegetable category. Granted this is mostly because I don’t have time to prepare nutritional home-cooked meals or the money to pay for healthy restaurants.

So yes, on a day where breakfast consists of a cereal bar, lunch is a fast food burrito and a frozen pizza is dinner, the pizza counts as my vegetable.

But I’m an adult and what I choose to eat is completely my decision. Young students don’t have this same control, and the laws that dictate their menus need to consider more nutritional options.

In contrast to my college diet, healthy options are essential for K—12 students who are limited to lunch in their school’s cafeteria. According to the LA Times, more than 31 million students receive free or low-cost meals. These students depend on the education system to provide them with quality options.

In an environment that caters to learning and education, younger students don’t need to be filled with fatty foods. They should instead be taught how to lead healthy lifestyles.  

The LA Times also said half a cup of tomatoes make an eighth cup of tomato paste. Therefore the amount of tomato paste in pizza constitutes a serving of vegetables. In addition the article said, “an eighth cup of tomato paste has more vitamins A and C than a half cup of canned green beans.” But the students aren’t eating plain tomato paste. They’re eating tomato paste, smashed between cheese, processed bread and often topped with an often hard-to-identify meat substance.

The article said “critics say legislators acted at the behest of giant food companies looking for an inexpensive way to deliver meals that count as having a serving of vegetables.”  If this is the case, then lawmakers need to place priority on future generations instead of financial incentives of large corporations. The health of our nation’s youth is important in overcoming the obesity rates that plague America.

Healthy eating habits start early on and the foundation should be built when students are in school so healthy children can become healthy adults (though food habits may falter a little during the college years.)
Ultimately, pizzas don’t grow from the ground, aren’t green and don’t come from a plant; so, pizzas are not vegetables. If you throw cheese, meat and bread into a salad, it’s still a salad, albeit an unhealthy one. Adding a vegetable as an ingredient in a pizza doesn’t make the pizza a vegetable.