USDA Declares War on Pizza


[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

I tweeted a link on Monday about the recent USDA warning against eating too much pizza, but this story is important enough for a post here on Slice proper. In a New York magazine article, Jane Black sifts through the agency's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 and notices that it specifically calls out pizza as a big 'ol fat problem.

Whether the USDA did so knowingly or not, the power of placing pizza in the crosshairs is that it speaks to everyone—from the guy in the La-Z-Boy downing a large Papa John's while watching Mike & Molly to the folks who don't ever touch soda or chips but will happily indulge in a pie with housemade meatballs and soppressata, paired with a quartino of a nice Barbarossa. What the government surely does realize is that the range of Americans who need that talking-to can also be demonstrated more simply, with hard numbers. About two thirds of adults are overweight or obese. Seventy-five percent are at risk of high blood pressure. Only 26 percent of adults eat vegetables three or more times a day, far short of existing national targets....

This timidity also left the field wide open to food marketers, who had no qualms about telling us how they think we should get our calories...According to Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, the fast-food industry spent $4.2 billion pitching offerings like Domino's Wisconsin 6 Cheese pizza, a beast layered with mozzarella, Cheddar, provolone, Parmesan, feta, and Asiago--none, so far as anyone can tell, from Wisconsin--and Burger King's 2,500-calorie pizza burger, formerly on sale at its Times Square Whopper Bar. Preschoolers see three commercials for fast food each day; teens see five. So much for the idea that it's un-American for anyone to tell you what to eat.

Black also points out that in the previous 30 years, "the government has refused to brand specific foods ... as the public-health enemies they can be." Here, the agency is calling out pizza by name.

Black's piece is an interesting read; do stop by New York for the full thing. I'd like to think that Slice'rs and/or SE'rs don't need this type of advice. We love our pizza, yes, but we've all heard of moderation, right?

I only hope my wife doesn't read Slice today and has also missed the original article. I don't need her reminders on top of Uncle Sam's.