Scientists in England claim they’ve created the world’s first “nutritionally balanced” pizza. This new pizza, sold by EatBalanced, apparently contains the “proper” ratio of salt, fat, carbohydrates, and vitamins. The scientists felt inspired to create it because “they refuse to believe that pizza is only suited for the junk food category.” Wow. How noble of them, trying to rescue the greasy desecration that frozen, prepared pizza has become. The only problem is that nutritionally balanced pizza already exists in many kitchens. It’s called “homemade.”
Anyone who can cook can create a wonderfully healthy pizza like the one pictured above, made from whole ingredients and without the additives that any plant-produced, frozen pizza with a necessary shelf life will require.
I don’t care how “nutritionally balanced” a pizza claims to be: it can’t beat the homemade whole wheat-olive oil crust; the tomato-basil sauce that I canned during summer; mozzarella cheese from a local cheese company; leftover chicken bought from a friend’s farm; peppers and onions from my CSA (community-supported agriculture) share; and homemade pesto that I use when I make pizza. I don't know how many calories are in each slice, but I do know where every ingredient comes from and that it’s packed with flavour and fresh vegetables.
It doesn’t matter how healthy this new frozen pizza might claim to be; it’s still processed and, therefore, should be avoided.
A major problem with the Western diet is its widespread dependence on convenience foods and, since producers have caught on to people’s growing interest in healthy eating, there are now countless healthy descriptions to make foods more appealing. Michael Pollan, in his Food Rules book, insists on keeping away: “Avoid foods advertised on television, imitation foods, and food products that make health claims. No natural food is simply a collection of nutrients, and a processed food stripped of its natural goodness to which nutrients are then added is no bargain for your body.”
Pizza was never supposed to be junk food. In Italy, pizza’s birthplace, it’s typically eaten for dinner, a fairly light meal. Pizza is also one of the easiest things to make. If you mix up dough early in the day, you can assemble toppings, bake, and have it on the table in less than 30 minutes. Pizza doesn’t need to be rescued by scientists, but rather reclaimed by home cooks who can see through the advertising scam. Just keep in mind another one of Pollan’s rules: “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”