Congress fails public school lunch test

Approaching the most food-centered holiday, how can we call pizza a vegetable?

by Eric Best

In 1621, colonists in Plymouth âÄî now Massachusetts âÄî celebrated the first Thanksgiving, a holiday centered on a veritable and literal cornucopia of food. These colonists, Native American massacre aside, and Congress, who instated Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1941, cared deeply about the ways food and our national identity and origins intertwined.

Currently, Congress is debating the Department of AgricultureâÄôs proposal describing pizza sauce and french fries as nutritionally equal to fruits and vegetables in public school lunches. Though pizza sauce may technically qualify as a fruit puree, itâÄôs wrapped in oily cheese and a bleached-flour crust, and though there is potato somewhere beneath the fried skin of french fries, this hardly qualifies them as a nutritional equivalent. Far from critically thinking about food and its role in the health of our school children, members of Congress will fly out to their homes across the country and celebrate a Thanksgiving feast with their families.

When did we stop caring about food?

Many will argue that Thanksgiving is a holiday, and thus a unique day where how we act and what we eat is special, but how can we ignore the hypocritical attitude that for one day we can think of little else than our motherâÄôs pie or our grandmaâÄôs stuffing, and the next day we declare that an eighth cup of pizza sauce is equal to a half cup of raw or cooked vegetables?

This doesnâÄôt mean, however, that we should have Thanksgiving each day, and our stomachs would agree. Our attitude of praising food for its role in both our health and the origin of our country cannot be applied only one day of the year, especially when we are deciding what our kids will be forced to eat when they arrive at the cafeteria each afternoon, hungry from recess.


Eric Best welcomes comments at [email protected]