When Is Tomato Sauce A Vegetable?
We have heard from some people who are angry that Congress has declared pizza a vegetable for the purpose of defining pizza as part of a nutritious lunch for school children, but the fact is, that urban myth is not true – at least somewhat. What Congress did was to make it easier to count tomato sauce and pizza sauce as equal to a serving of vegetables, which in real terms might be just as harmful. In fact, you can read the entire appropriations act, several hundred pages of it, and not find the word “pizza” or “vegetable” anywhere. The fight is over tomato paste, or exactly how much tomato paste provides the same nutritional value as a serving of vegetables. Right now, tomato paste gets special treatment under school lunch regulations. An eighth of a cup of the paste is considered to be equal to a half a cup of vegetables. The new regulations would take away that exemption and make a half a cup a half a cup –notwithstanding it was tomato paste or vegetables. Under that regulation, schools would not be allowed to credit a volume of fruits or vegetables that is more than the actual serving size. Of course, opponents argue, a half-cup of avocado, for example, is very different nutritionally than a half-cup of zucchini. Sure, a half-cup of tomato paste would now equal a half-cup of either avocado or zucchini (or any other fruit or vegetable), but nutritionist say that it would provide more potassium and fiber than either. Sounds confusing? As with most Congressional bills, it is. But don’t get too excited the next time you hear that the government has declared pizza a vegetable. There is more to the story than meets the eye – or the palate.