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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Congress Rules That Pizza Sauce Is a Vegetable

Posted By on Wed, Nov 16, 2011 at 7:30 AM

Source of many vital nutrients. Apparently. - ALAN COWAN / SHUTTERSTOCK

Criticize the Obama administration if you will for being too soft on GMOs or too hard on legal pot dispensaries, but it seems to be on the marks when it comes to school lunch. The USDA, under the administration, has been working to reform the nutritional guidelines over school lunch to knock out some of the starchy, fatty foods many students eat and replace them with fresh fruits and vegetables. And they almost succeeded.

The Washington Post reported yesterday, though, that at the last minute, members of Congress have knocked out the USDA's plan to reduce the amount of potatoes and pizza students are served -- in particular, they've ruled that a special exception in the nutritional guidelines that counts tomato paste (aka pizza sauce) as a vegetable should stay.

House lawmakers involved in negotiating the spending bill had wanted to scrap the entire USDA school lunch proposal, citing its $6.8 billion price tag and the financial burdens it would place on school districts, people familiar with the negotiations said. Facing that broader criticism, Senate and House conferees scrapped the USDA's tomato and potato proposals. The food industry cheered.

The Post does not report on which industry-funded congress members blocked the change. Meanwhile, in France, the government has just banned ketchup from school lunchrooms. Apparently, the French weren't convinced by the Reagan administration's argument that ketchup and pickle relish are vegetables. Perhaps the food processors' lobby isn't so strong in Europe.

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