Pizza named a veggie, surprising many


Is pizza a vegetable?

Most people at Fremont, including cafeteria manager Lawanna Wyatt, don’t think so.

But members of Congress think tomato sauce makes pizza a vegetable and that schools involved in the National School Lunch Program, including Fremont, should be able to continue to count a slice of pizza as a serving of vegetables.

Wyatt, who has worked as the cafeteria manager for four years, said she did not know about pizza being considered a vegetable or the recent controversy it has stirred up until a reporter told her.

“I was just shocked because there’s no way it could be a vegetable. I couldn’t believe it,” said Wyatt.

On the other hand, Katie Riemer, the health educator at the Tiger Clinic, did hear about the pizza controversy.

“I am not surprised [the government counts pizza as a vegetable] because they consider the fries a vegetable also,” she said.

Schools across America had been counting pizza as a vegetable for years, but on Nov. 15, Congress voted on whether to increase the amount of tomato paste they would have to put onto pizza to treat it like a vegetable. The proposal was to increase the tomato sauce from two tablespoons to a one-half a cup under the recommendation of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

According to the New York Times, the USDA made the recommendation in January along with other suggestions to limit the amount of starchy vegetables that schools serve. (The USDA is responsible for developing and executing U.S federal government policies on farming, agriculture and food.)

Congress, however, did not make the changes that the USDA proposed.
Many of the students we interviewed did not know that the pizza they were eating was considered a vegetable by Congress.

“I thought it was considered junk food,” said Ysaira Torres, a senior at Media Academy.

Matthew Phork, also a Media Academy senior, agreed with the Congress and believes that pizza is a vegetable.

“It’s a vegetable because it’s wheat, tomato and spices and if it didn’t have the pepperoni it would be vegetarian,” said Phork.

Even though Fremont cafeteria workers don’t think pizza is a vegetable, they have made changes to try to make it healthier. They say they use fresh ingredients for their pizzas.

“We use whole grain dough and we prepare our pizzas fresh every day,” said Wyatt.

However, Riemer says that she does not see the whole grain crust on every pizza the cafeteria serves.

Still, she says, “pizza, even when not made with whole grain is not that bad for you as long as the rest of your diet is good.”