Is Pizza a Vegetable?

15 Dec

After a debate in Congress about vegetable servings in the school lunch program the internet exploded with talk of pizza’s new status as a vegetable. Even though the ruling in Congress did not establish Pizza as a vegetable, the debate was about whether or not the amount of tomato paste on pizza would count as a serving of vegetables.  This internet meme could increase interest in the quality of food served in American public schools.

Food served in schools, many times, is extremely unhealthy processed food (like pizza). Pizza in schools is usually covered in high fat cheese and has a refined wheat crust.  The amount of water and resources used to make pizza is more than it takes to grow a vegetable. Wheat alone has an average railroad haul of 980 miles and an average trucking haul of 485 miles. Kids do not eat enough fruits and vegetables in school. Changing the guidelines about what counts as a vegetable serving from whole vegetables to tomato paste probably won’t help kids’ health or the environment. A program I came across, called Farm to School, might be able to get kids to eat more vegetables. Farm to School helps schools on the National School Lunch Program get food from local farms in to their cafeterias. I think if more programs like this were involved in school lunch programs, kids could get excited about healthy local food that they would eat every school day in their cafeterias. The local farms aspect of the program could limit the environmental impact public schools have by reducing the miles that the food travels. At Smith, a private institution, we have been making a major effort to serve healthy and local food in our dining halls but a focus on the public school system is also extremely  important. Even a small step in the right direction can help spread the word about local food and help the environment.

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