A 2002 federal program that delivers fresh fruits and vegetables to the country’s poorest schools is now at risk because of crony capitalism. Lobbyists from the frozen, fried, canned, and dried food industries are all jostling to have their products included in the government program, and their efforts are paying off. Reps. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) have recently introduced legislation that would broaden the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to include frozen, canned, dried, and pureed fruits and vegetables.
The Big Food lobbies contend that the legislation should be rewritten to include “all forms” of fruits and vegetables, even including highly processed and fried foods. This kind of change would open the door to all kinds of absurdities that we’ve seen in the past, such as the attempt to define pizza as a vegetable. Big Food also influenced the decision to count French fries as a vegetable. Is this what we want for the country’s most vulnerable children?