I never touch ketchup, so I don't get my vegetables that way. :)
Congress wants to keep pizza and french fries on school lunch lines, fighting back against an Obama administration proposal to make school lunches healthier.
The final version of a spending bill released late Monday would unravel school lunch standards the Agriculture Department proposed earlier this year, which included limiting the use of potatoes on the lunch line and delaying limits on sodium and delaying a requirement to boost whole grains.
The bill also would allow tomato paste on pizzas to be counted as a vegetable, as it is now. USDA had wanted to prevent that.
Food companies that produce frozen pizzas for schools, the salt industry and potato growers requested the changes, and some conservatives in Congress say the federal government shouldn't be telling children what to eat.
Yeah! The federal government shouldn't be "telling children what to eat" - even though the federal government pays for these meals - because we all know that kids inevitably make the right choices on their own, right? Especially when kids are helped by the frozen pizza industry, the salt industry, and the potato growers of America.
So what if kids want to pork out on french fries? That gives them three essential nutrients: salt, starch, and grease. It's very good for the potato industry, and it's especially good for the child obesity industry.
The school lunch proposal was based on 2009 recommendations by the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said they were needed to reduce childhood obesity and future health care costs.
Nutrition advocate Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said Congress's proposed changes will keep schools from serving a wider array of vegetables. Children already get enough pizza and potatoes, she says. It would also slow efforts to make pizzas — a longtime standby on school lunch lines — healthier, with whole grain crusts and lower levels of sodium.
"They are making sure that two of the biggest problems in the school lunch program, pizza and french fries, are untouched," she said.
A group of retired generals advocating for healthier school lunches also criticized the spending bill. The group, called Mission: Readiness has called poor nutrition in school lunches a national security issue because obesity is the leading medical disqualifier for military service.
"We are outraged that Congress is seriously considering language that would effectively categorize pizza as a vegetable in the school lunch program," Amy Dawson Taggart, the director of the group, said in a letter to members of Congress before the final plan was released. "It doesn't take an advanced degree in nutrition to call this a national disgrace."
And it doesn't take an advanced degree in economics or political science to know that these affected industries, which make money keeping children obese, have a lot more clout in Congress than nutrition experts, retired generals, and every scientist in the nation,... combined.