Eat your veggies, Congress

by julie on November 16, 2011

As I left the gym today, I found myself behind a minivan bearing a Juice PLUS+ sticker. Actually, “sticker” doesn’t adequately describe it. Basically, it was a full windshield ad that proclaimed “Fruits and veggies in a pill!”

I’ve donated two cookbooks to Goodwill that offered dozens of recipes that camouflaged fruits and vegetables as secret ingredients in child-friendly meals and snacks.

I know far too many grown men who still balk at eating vegetables.

Apparently some of those grown men occupy seats in Congress and allow their childish disdain for healthy foods (and their affinity for agricultural lobbies) to prejudice them in favor of declaring two tablespoons of tomato sauce as a vegetable. If Republicans on the House Appropriations committee get their way, pizza will fulfill the federal school lunch requirement for a serving of vegetables.

(I find that especially snort-worthy given that I was raised by two Republicans who’d have called bullshit on that argument when I was a kid.)

Putting aside how ridiculous it is that lobbyists have a stronger voice in this discussion than nutritionists (seriously Congress, that’s shameful), would somebody please tell me why it’s so fucking distasteful to actually EAT fruits and vegetables?

Kids are never going to learn to eat them if parents refuse to do so, or if they use supplements (or however Juice PLUS+ and their ilk want to define themselves) to cover their bases. Especially in areas where fruits and vegetables are readily available, and where people certainly have the money to spend on eating out at restaurants.

We had fruits and vegetables in my house when I was a kid, but we also had lots of treats. What kid is going to opt for an apple when she knows that there’s a package of Oreos in the pantry? That’s why I so rarely buy treats. When my kids come home from school, they almost always have a piece of fruit or I will whip up some plain pasta or rice — and they are satisfied with that.

Yes, it’s occasionally inconvenient to have very few convenience foods in the house — such as when I come home from the gym and we have no leftovers left over — but for the most part it benefits all of us, both in terms of our health and our food bill.

And yes, I’m betting that the majority of the vocal House committee opponents of the USDA school lunch standards are men. There are only three female Republican committee members — Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Kay Granger (R-TX), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) — and I’ve found no official statements, not even an offhand comment, from any of them on the proposed changes. They’re all mothers too. I’d hope they’d have more to say about an issue that affects kids; I count on our female leaders in that regard, far more than I count on men.

We don’t need to give our kids more excuses not to eat healthy. Set a good example, Congress. Eat your veggies.

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