Remember that Reagan-era punchline about ketchup being classified as a vegetable for school lunches? I grew up thinking it was just a joke, but it has a 7,000 word Wikipedia article. This is probably how archaeologists in the future will measure the social impact of everything in the pre-nuclear wasteland: the length of the wikipedia article. As of this writing, the most important thing in society are… Supreme Court clerks. Huh. Well, I guess we know what those folks do in between terms.
So ketchup is a vegetable. Sure. Why not. But apparently, we’ve reducto’d this ad a little bit more absurdum:
Pizza is one of the school-food companies’ most popular products; schools purchase more than $450 million worth every year. Under the old rules, companies could market pizza slices as a product combining grains, protein and a full serving of vegetables.
This was possible thanks to a longstanding loophole: Rather than count the two tablespoons of tomato paste on a serving of pizza as two tablespoons of tomato paste, they could count it as eight tablespoons of tomatoes, the theory being that at some point before being processed, the two tablespoons had existed in the form of several whole tomatoes.
I love it when the pull quote is its own punchline.
Seriously, the New York Times Magazine wrote a surprisingly engrossing piece about this, titled How School Lunch Became the Latest Political Battleground. I’m surprised at how complicated it gets and how strange the bedfellows become, but that really comes with the territory at a certain point.