Pizza has been much in the news lately. First Herman Cain offered us his taxonomy of manly pizzas. Now Congress is trying to disguise pizza as a vegetable and sneak it, as such, into our school lunches. This at least gives the beleaguered legislature something to do other than pace back and forth demanding to know how the supercommittee is doing. That only makes the pages nervous.
And the pizza debate is a noble debate.
People have spent a lot of time over the years debating what exactly constitutes a vegetable. Potatoes? Ketchup? Ronald Reagan thought that was a vegetable, and that’s good enough for me. The man knew what it was to be a vegetable.
Tomatoes, in my understanding, are a sort of closet vegetable.
Tomato paste? Sure, why not!
So naturally, pizza is a vegetable. Well, specifically, the tomato sauce on pizza, not that this makes a tremendous difference. Congress is here, and it understands that too much subtlety only leads to confusion.
In fact, in spite of the recent outcry, this isn’t actually a change. As long as a serving of pizza contains at least 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce, this allows it to squeak in as a vegetable under the current rules.
No, all Congress was doing was opposing change. It’s one of the things they do best, a talent that has endeared them to the population at large, giving them popularity levels comparable with the radio stations that insist on playing “The Little Drummer Boy” on repeat every day from Halloween to New Year’s.
But this raises a larger question. What was President Obama’s USDA doing, trying to institute new, healthier guidelines for school lunches? In these rough economic times, the last thing we need is more roughage in our diets. Green, leafy vegetables? What are we, giraffes? Healthier, wholer grains? Never has anything billed as a Healthier, Wholer Grain Option tasted better than the alternative. That’s a polite way of saying This Tastes Like Cardboard That Lost Its Will To Live. Schoolchildren may be battling record obesity, but surely we can come up with something short of closing the time-honored Pizza Sauce Is Definitely A Vegetable loophole! Trying to limit our intake of potatoes and sodium? If it weren’t for potatoes and sodium, we wouldn’t eat anything at all. Healthful food for schoolchildren? I thought we were coming to an end of this belt-tightening.
Enough! Thank you, Congress, for keeping pizza in the vegetable column, where it belongs. Who knew that something that tasted so delicious was so good for you?
“It’s not actually good for you,” nutritionists say.
“I’m pretty sure that if Congress says so, it is so,” we say, for the first and only time in our lives. “Here,” we add, passing over a giant bowl of pinkish lard, “have some more fruit.”
“That’s not fruit.”
We sigh. “This one is still in committee.”
“Do you have anything else? How about a meringue? It’s made using hot air, tastes sweet, seems to contain nothing, and yet is bad for you. It seems like the sort of thing Congress might make.”
We spoon several resolutions declaring God a vital part of the national motto onto their plates. “Or there’s always pork.”
“Right.” They push the plate away. “Never mind. I’m not feeling so hungry after all.”