If there were any lingering doubts as to whom our elected representatives really work for, they were put to rest Tuesday when Congress announced that frozen pizza was a vegetable. The United States Congress voted to rebuke new USDA guidelines for school lunches that would have increased the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in school cafeterias and instead declared that the tomato paste on frozen pizza qualified it as a vegetable.
For this we can thank large food companies -- in this case ConAgra and Schwan -- which pressured Congress to comply with their financial interests. It simply doesn't suit the makers of frozen pizza, chicken nuggets and tater tots for schools to offer real food in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Many conservative lawmakers are also insisting that the federal government shouldn't tell people what to eat. This is the same argument Sarah Palin used against Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign to the rallying cry, "nanny-state."
But the government clearly does not control the food Americans eat. Corporations do. In this case ConAgra and Schwan are quite literally determining what the vast majority of our school children will be fed in school cafeterias: A veritable chemical concoction made to look like pizza. These are the ingredients for the "traditional 4x6 school pizza" made by ConAgra:
CRUST: (Enriched wheat flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, soybean oil, dextrose, baking powder (sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, cornstarch, monocalcium phosphate, calcium sulfate), yeasts (yeast, starch, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid), salt, dough conditioners (wheat flour, salt, soy oil, L-cysteine, ascorbic acid, fungal enzyme), wheat gluten, soy flour).
SAUCE: (water, tomato paste (31 percent NTSS), pizza seasoning (salt, sugar, spices, dehydrated onion, guar and xanthan gum, garlic powder, potassium sorbate, citric acid, tricalcium phophate and soybean oil (prevent caking)), modified food starch). SHREDDED MOZZARELLA
CHEESE: (Pasteurized part skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes). SHREDDED MOZZARELLA
CHEESE SUBSTITUTE: (Water, oil (soybean oil, partially hydrogenated soybean oil with citric acid), casein, milk protein concentrate, modified food starch, contains 2 percent or less of the following: sodium aluminum phosphate, salt, lactic acid, mozzarella cheese type flavor (cheese (milk, culture, rennet, salt), milk solids, disodium phosphate), disodium phosphate, sorbic acid, nutrient blend (magnesium oxide, zinc oxide, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin and vitamin B-12), vitamin A palmitate).
It's not even pizza, much less a vegetable. (And if you think that's bad take a look at the ingredients for the "Pepperoni, Reduced Fat Pizza").
This vote by Congress makes it abundantly clear who calls the shots when it comes to feeding our nation's children. According to The New York Times food companies have spent $5.6 million lobbying against these new rules.
Are you surprised?
Food is the battle ground where we can take back our power and our health.