It appears tomato paste has gotten special consideration over the years. As it stands, 1/8 cup or 2 tablespoons is counted as a half serving of vegetables. So why is this a problem? Well, a serving of vegetables, rather tomatoes, according to the USDA website is: 1 large raw whole (3″), 1 cup chopped or sliced, raw, canned, or cooked. That would mean two tablespoons of tomato paste is getting more credit than what it deserves.
The Obama administration proposed a change to this, specifically, that schools would no longer be able to credit a volume of fruits or vegetables more than what is actually being served. Which would mean, unless that slice of pizza has a half cup of tomato paste, it could not be considered to have a half servings worth of vegetables. Congress blocked that change.
All the uproar really isn't over a few tablespoons of tomato paste. No, it's this illusion of tomato paste and starchy vegetables, in the form of pizza and french fries, as healthy school lunch options, that is the issue. In addition, this loophole has also allowed food manufacturers to capitalize and make big bucks by labeling highly processed unhealthy foods as healthy.
I found this gem on the SpaghettiOs website:
“SpaghettiOs® Original pasta, a healthy entrée by FDA standards.”
I couldn't make this stuff up…..look for yourself!
What with five essential nutrients, a FULL SERVING OF VEGETABLES, low in fat and three grams of fiber how could this not be healthy? One only need to turn the can around and look at the ingredient label to find some of the answers:
Water, Tomato Purée (Water, Tomato Paste), Enriched Macaroni Product (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Contains Less than 2% of: Salt, Enzyme Modified Cheddar Cheese (Cheddar Cheese [Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Calcium Chloride], Water, Disodium Phosphate), Enzymes), Flavoring, Potassium Chloride, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Cottonseed, Canola and/or Soybean), Enzyme Modified Butter (Milk), Skim Milk, Paprika Extract, Citric Acid.
And how is this for a label claim. In order to yield 1 cup of vegetables, you would have to eat the WHOLE can. Which is actually two servings and a whopping 70 grams of blood sugar spiking carbohydrates.
What kid is ever going to want kale or broccoli or spinach or Brussels sprouts or…….when you can have SpaghettiOs, French fries and pizza?
Americans eat three servings a day of fruits and vegetables, and if their one fruit is ketchup and their vegetables are iceberg lettuce and French fries,
they are missing the vitamins and minerals found in the many different-colored fruits and vegetables. ~ David Heber, M.D., Ph.D. author of What Color is Your Diet?
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