Lisa Markwell: Jamie's nutritional house of cards falls like Dominos

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The Independent Online

Please excuse me while I have a wry laugh at this news just in: US Congress has a law going through that will allow schools in America to list pizza as a vegetable.

This particularly insane piece of legislation speaks volumes about the power of the fast-food lobby in the States. It makes a nonsense of healthy eating programmes; Jamie Oliver must be seething. The frozen food giants objected to plans by the Department of Agriculture to restrict the appearance of "junk" food like pizza and chips on canteen menus as a way of cutting child obesity. It would have meant the end of their profit stream from supplying schools. Money talks.

So now we're told that a smear of tomato puree under a molten layer of cheese and pepperoni is enough to classify pizza as, uh huh, a vegetable. Don't tell Britain's children... And yet, and yet. Every parent knows that getting veggies into a child is difficult so the sentiment has some tiny kernel (not sweetcorn kernel, alas) of sense.

If the pizza was fresh dough, with a generous slick of homemade tomato passata and topped with spinach, artichokes, peppers and/or courgettes, we'd be talking. But, of course, the mass-produced salt- and sugar-laden pap that arrived in juggernauts from distribution centres is not the same thing. At all.

I do love a bit of stealth health. My record is a bolognese sauce with nine vegetables hidden within. And it's amazing how much frittata (six veg) a child will eat if there's a smattering of feta cheese and pancetta amongst the other stuff.

Until yesterday I had existed without refrigeration for a month because my expensive American-style fridge-freezer broke down and the service contract turned out to be not worth a dime/damn. I was forced to buy many more vegetables than usual, because they don't spoil and the foxes don't nick them the from the 'larder' (ie, back garden).

The offspring grumbled for a day or two, but they soon forgot their habit of standing with the fridge door wide open, pushing past salad and retrieving slices of ham (ham seems almost essential to teenage life). A rather wonderful thing happened: they started to enjoy courgette risotto and tomato and herb pasta. I hope I can keep it up, even with the new Siemens.

More powerful and influential people than me have tried to persuade communities to eat healthily. With this unhelpful move by the US Congress, America has taken yet another step in the wrong direction.

But... there's one miniature bit of good news. In LA, residents are now allowed to hold farmers' markets in their gardens. Declare war on pizza!