Forty will not be the new 20 for long … Not if pizza is the new vegetable.
Now, I enjoy a slice just as much as the next guy, but I have never patted myself on the back after eating some cheesy, pepperoni goodness and thought, “One more vegetable in the win column for today!”
This isn’t rocket science, people of Congress. Pizza, like money, doesn’t grow on trees or out of the ground. Even if it was doused in tomato sauce and little else, sorry, still not a vegetable.
The real laugh I get from all this mess is listening to people take a different political angle: “Congress shouldn’t legislate what our kids eat!” I agree, but the people who use this argument are overlooking the real point here. The problem is, the passage of this bill proves beyond any reasonable doubt that Congress DOES NOT control our schools’ food supply. Large corporations do. Their money may not grow on trees, but it talks. All the way to Capitol Hill.
The “Big Food” industry, companies like ConAgra, Monsanto, and Schwan’s (among many others), use money, advertising, lobbyists, lawyers and intimidation to gain and keep control of every aspect of the industry. This is just one more example.
Nevermind that one out of five four-year-olds are now obese in our country. Nevermind that chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer are on the rise in the U.S. and around the world. These can’t possibly be related to how our government is in bed with Big Food companies, right?
I’m not much for conspiracy theories, but I’m also not a fan of allowing companies to poison us and our kids while Congress looks the other way, or worse, HELPS MAKE IT POSSIBLE.
Now, that being said, I’m not going to fly to NYC and start protesting with the Occupy movement. I certainly understand their outrage, and am thankful that people in our country are finally standing up for themselves and telling companies and Congress alike that things like this new bill simply are not OK. But I will leave the right to assemble to them.
There are a lot of things I can do at home … In fact, there are a lot of things everyone can do at home. Here’s just a short list, off the top of my head:
- Buy local. Even big cities have small local markets and farmer’s markets available for at least part of the year. And all cities have locally owned supermarkets and grocery stores. Bonus: By buying local food and products, you are also helping boost your local economy.
- Eat local. When you go out to eat, choose local restaurants rather than chains. If they serve locally grown and produced food, even better.
- Buy fresh. Fresh fruits and veggies (not to be confused with pizza and fries), are better for you. They pack more nutrition, and they are just as easy to prepare as frozen varieties. In many cases, fresh is cheaper than frozen, too.
- Buy organic. Fortunately, Congress and the USDA haven’t yet relaxed the requirements for organic labeling. This means that by buying organic, you don’t get something injected with hormones, sprayed with or grown in poisons, or produced in a lab (no GMOs). This is better for your health, AND you won’t be supporting Big Food companies who promote those things in agriculture.
- Limit buying and using processed or prepackaged foods. This can be tough, given the current food climate in our country. But if you can make one exchange, it can make an impact. Imagine if every American household started making their own pizza instead of ordering delivery or buying frozen, for example. First, it is possible to make a healthy pizza, and second, even if you load it with crap, by making it yourself I can guarantee it’s still going to be better for you from a caloric and nutritional standpoint. It still isn’t a vegetable, but hey, it’s a start.
- Grow a garden, or find a local community garden to participate in. If you are like me, you were not blessed with a green thumb. Or maybe you live in an apartment in a very urban setting and a full garden of your own isn’t possible. I hear you. But if I can grow a few of my own herbs in my kitchen, you can too. Just watch the seeds you’re using … Buy them from a local farm if possible (not from Monsanto).
- Learn to can, dehydrate, and preserve your own food. As with gardening, this takes some time and know-how. But if you need food with a shelf life, this is a good alternative to buying packaged and processed foods directly from the store. Your preservation process will definitely be less toxic than the processes used by food companies.
- Plan and pack your meals … And your kids’ meals, too. Congress may be able to control school food programs to some degree, but they don’t yet dictate what you can put in your child’s lunchbox. Or in your own, for that matter. It takes some time and effort to plan and pack whole-food-based meals, but it’s worth the effort. It’s your health and the health of your family we’re talking about here.
I guess that’s what this all comes down to: Personal responsibility and common sense. You and I know pizza isn’t a vegetable.
And at the end of the day, it’s up to us (not Congress) to determine our destinies and be responsible for our own food and health.
“Let everyone sweep in front of his own door,
and the whole world will be clean.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe