School pizza and other factory foods

This is a missed opportunity in most schools. Pizza has the ability to offer interesting crust options using ethnic flatbreads such as naan, chapatis, lavash, and pita. And the toppings can be healthy, good tasting foods including various meats and vegetables. Even the pepperoni does not need to be embalmed with petroleum-based preservatives! Natural versions are available.

Like most school food, the potentially delicious pizza has been degraded into this typical option:

French bread pizza on a cutting board and a mug of beer

Cheese: low moisture part skim mozzarella cheese (pasteurized milk, cultures, salt, enzymes), mozzarella cheese substitute (water, corn oil, nonfat dry milk, modified food starch, potassium chloride, sodium citrate, sodium aluminum phosphate, sodium tripolyphosphate, magnesium oxide, ferric orthophosphate, vitamin A palmitate, niacinamide, zinc oxide, cyanocobalamin, pyridoxine hydrochloride [vitamin B5]. Low fat provolone cheese (pasteurized part skim milk, cultures, salt, enzymes, smoke flavoring). Cheddar cheese (pasteurized milk, cultures, salt, enzymes, annatto vegetable color).

Sauce: margarine (liquid and partially hydrogenated soybean oil, water, salt, mono and diglycerides, vegetable lecithin, natural flavors, beta carotene [vitamin A coloring], vitamin A palmitate added), sugar, salt, modified food starch, contains 2 percent or less of dehydrated garlic, guar gum, xanthan gum, propylene glycol alginate, natural flavor and soy lecithin.

French bread: enriched unbleached wheat flour (flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, whole wheat flour), water, vital wheat gluten, isolated soy protein, contains 2 percent or less of sugar, salt, soybean oil, yeast, DATEM, dextrose, soybean oil, ascorbic acid, L-cystine, azodicarbonamide, enzymes, sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium sulfate, calcium peroxide.

Multi Cheese Garlic French Bread Pizza by Schwans
#78624, Fairfax County, VA – Sept 2010
Gross!

Students complain that this pizza is so greasy it takes a stack of paper napkins to soak it up. But a pizza made with real food isn’t dripping with grease; it appears that the oil based fake cheese (“mozzarella cheese substitute”) may be the culprit. This is unfortunate because schools can easily obtain real cheese at low cost from the federal commodity food program. Also, note that the first ingredient in the sauce is not tomato, but margarine — which means lots more oil.

Institutional foods are notorious for being largely composed of cheap fats and cheap sugars, including hydrogenated oil, HFCS, lots of sodium and a long list of synthetic chemical additives.

  • A typical pre-made school cafeteria hamburger patty contains six different MSG-type additives as well as two forms of sugars.
  • The barbecued pork rib patty has four MSG cousins and twelve forms of sugar, especially corn syrup and high fructose com syrup.
  • The popcorn chicken has three MSG additives, two sugars, and eleven forms of salt, plus TBHQ.
  • The beef teriyaki nuggets have only one MSG source, but eight sugars, four forms of salt, as well as artificial flavor and sodium benzoate.
Cheese Quesadilla

You can make it at home with a tortilla, cheese, and olive oil. But here’s what’s in the one served in school:

Ingredients: Crust (enriched wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic ),water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil with artificial flavoring, artificial coloring, citric acid, baking powder [sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, cornstarch, monocalcium phosphate, calcium sulfate, salt, dextrose, dough conditioners [wheat flour, salt, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean, cottonseed and/or canola oil), L-cystine, ascorbic acid, fungal enzyme], wheat gluten, xanthan gum, calcium propionate, potassium sorbate), shredded mozzarella cheese (pasteurized part skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes, cellulose gum [anticaking]), cheddar flavored mozzarella cheese substitute (water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil with citric acid, milk protein concentrate, casein, modified food starch, contains 2% or less of the following: sodium aluminum phosphate, salt, cheese blend [cheddar, blue, and semisoft cheese {pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes}, water, whey, salt, citric acid], lactic acid, disodium phosphate, sorbic acid, nutrient blend [magnesium oxide, zinc oxide, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin and vitamin B12], paprika annatto blend [natural extractives of annatto seeds and paprika with soybean oil, mono-, di- and triglycerides, other flavors, tocopherol, and potassium hydroxide], romano cheese flavor [cheese {milk, culture, rennet, salt), milk solids, disodium phosphate], mozzarella cheese type cheese flavor [cheese {milk, culture, rennet, salt}, milk solids, disodium phosphate, sodium glutaminate, salt], cheese flavor maltodextrin, acacia gum, 1,2-propylene glycol, trisodium diphosphate, sodium ], beta carotene [partially hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oils, corn oil, beta carotene, tocopherol], vitamin palmitate, water, tomato paste, shredded mozzarella cheese substitute (water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil with citric acid, milk protein concentrate, casein, modified food starch, contains 2% or less of the following: sodium aluminum phosphate, salt, lactic acid, disodium phosphate, sorbic acid], romanocheese flavor [cheese {milk, culture, rennet, salt), milk solids, disodium phosphate], mozzarellacheese type flavor [cheese {milk culture, rennet, salt}, milk solids, disodium phosphate} provolone cheese flavor [cheese {milk, culture, rennet, salt}, milk solids, disodium phosphate,sodium glutaminate [MSG], salt, cheese flavor {maltodextrin, acacia gum, 1,2-propylene glycol, trisodium diphosphate, sodium polyphosphate}] nutrient blend {magnesium oxide, zinc oxide, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin and vitamin B12], beta carotene [partially hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oils, corn oil, beta carotene, tocopherol], vitamin A palmitate, salsa seasoning [salt, sugar, dehydrated onion and garlic, dehydrated jalapeno, pepper, citric acid, xanthan gum, spice, dehydrated cilantro, potassium sorbate], vinegar, releasing agent [water, mono and diglycerides, polysorbate 60 and lecithin, acetic acid, polydimethylsiloxane], cellulose gum

The same giant food distribution companies that sell things like this cheese quesadilla also offer real food; it is up to the school system to decide if they want good nutrition or the lowest possible price. Of course, preparing food in the school kitchen offers the best food at low cost.