The year is 1981. Ronald Reagan’s budget, eventually passed as the Gramm-Latta budget, slashes $27 billion from entitlements and specifically $1 billion from the school lunch program. As the wiki tells us,
On September 3, 1981, the Secretary of Agriculture proposed classifying ketchup and pickle relish as vegetables to save money on school lunch programs.
(Just for the record, the Secretary of Agriculture at the time, as the writer of the wiki seems reluctant to tell us, was Earl Butz, a heartless bastard if ever there was one.) So ketchup and pickle relish counted as vegetables in school lunches.
Fast-forward 30 years. Barack Obama’s USDA makes a more healthful recommendation… the tomato sauce or paste on a slice of pizza must amount to a half cup to count as a vegetable. But the House and Senate are having none of that. Pizza, b’gawd, is a vegetable, no matter that it’s almost impossible to put a half cup of tomato sauce into a single slice, and “a couple of tablespoons” is more typical. Oh, by the way… Congress received $5.6 million (see same article) in food industry lobby contributions.
That’s a fair trade, right? Children’s nutritional health for congressional contributions from industry lobbyists? And it’s a trade that Republicans AND Democrats have been willing to make for 30 years. As the sainted Molly Ivins used to say, we live in a greeeaaat nation.
And every one will say,
As you walk your flowery way,
“If he’s content with a vegetable love which would certainly not suit ME,
Why, what a most particularly pure young man this pure young man must be!”