Congress is NOT saying “Pizza is a Vegetable”

Dear…well…nearly everybody,

I appreciate the emotion and response to the idea that Congress is mandating that pizza is a vegetable. Getting politically charged over food issues is, generally, a good thing.

It’s just that, your story is wrong.

It’s tomato paste that’s claimed to be a vegetable, and has been for a while now. This is not a new thing.

“But Kate!”, I can hear a few of you say. “Tomato Paste can only be used in Pizza.”

Clearly you never used sauce with pasta. But this is beside the point.

My point is this – if outrage you must have (and the way we approach school lunches is outrageous) – then your outrage must come from a logical, well thought through, well-evidenced, position. If the first thing out of your mouth is “Congress says pizza is a vegetable!”, then your position has been tainted by an emotive response to a poorly written news article, rather than the real issue.

Oh, what’s the real issue?

That the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), the trade association that lobbied Congress on behalf of frozen pizza sellers like ConAgra Foods Inc and Schwan Food Co and french fry makers McCain Foods Ltd and J.R. Simplot Co., have enough influence to dictate to Congress, what constitutes a healthy meal for children.

And, if you really want to expand on this point, you, who tweeted yesterday in moral indignation, did nothing to prevent this from happening (I mean, the general you, not the specific you). Because one of the ways that makes the food lobbying machine work is the knowledge that many, many people in the general public don’t have the time to do the work to counter industry proposals.

So while, yes, getting involved in food politics is a good thing – and this week’s outrage was political – doing so involves being active, rather than reactive.

Be well, and fight the good fight,

-Kate

PS. And before I get the e-mails that state that pizza is the primary way tomato paste is delivered, it still doesn’t make tomato paste into pizza, any more than a camshaft is a car, or a mouse is a computer.