Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features In the Kitchen Ingredients
From the Editor’s Desk: September/October 2005

Health vs Hype


April 16, 2008
By Cam Wood

Topics

A return to school – with the arrival of September –
brings with it a strange mix to the pizza industry. While some relish
the return of weekly deliveries for school pizza days, others cringe at
the refreshed focus on childhood obesity and foods labelled as the
cause.

Health vs Hype

A return to school – with the arrival of September – brings with it a strange mix to the pizza industry. While some relish the return of weekly deliveries for school pizza days, others cringe at the refreshed focus on childhood obesity and foods labelled as the cause.

In an effort to, a) seemingly act on a cultural concern, and b) pass blame along to something else as they cover up the continued lack of adequate funding, provincial governments are beginning to ramp up their spin doctors to identify “junk food” in the education system.

A recent study from Western Canada suggested that “candy, soft drinks, pizza and other junk foods” were selected nine times out of 10 by students in favour of “more healthy foods.”

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And while it would be easy to target candy and soft drinks – just ask the vending industry about being assigned blame for individual choices weighed by consumers – the grouping of pizza into the junk food category strikes a disheartening chord.

We know many of our pizzaiolos have heard the rhetoric before, and many have washed their hands of trying to defend their position. But what continues to fester beneath the surface in this debate, is that governments fund public health
departments … health departments with trained dieticians and nutritionists that should recognize the benefits of pizza
consumption.

Maybe a candy bar doesn’t have any dietary fibre. Perhaps that bag of potato chips won’t help lower cholesterol levels in lab rats.

But a carefully topped pizza can hold a wealth of nutritional value … something these civil servants seem to overlook in their campaigns to control the consumers’ responsibility to decide for themselves.

A stretch, you may ask?

Not in our minds. Take, for example, this month’s focus on lycopene in tomato sauce. Food expert Bob McDougall’s feature (pages 30-31) calls for all of us to take a long hard look at the health benefits of lycopene – not to mention several other benefits of pizza ingredients – and begin the process of educating our consumers.

The dietary benefits of lycopene have been “scientifically validated” in showing “reductions in factors associated with several cancers and heart disease, and a significantly reduced rate of prostate cancer,” McDougall states.

Now is a good time for pizza makers to take their customers back to school with a little nutritional education. For those who don’t, the opportunities to preserve the loyalty marketing (re: school pizza days) niche, will disappear at the hands of dieticians influenced by the blind ambition of education ministers trying to hide their inability to get kids active once again.

Tossing that aside…

Over the past couple issues, Canadian Pizza has dedicated a lot of space to the pizza games south of the border. Organized by our friends at Pizza Today magazine and the amazing World Pizza Champions, these events are an absolute spectacle of entertainment and dough-handling skill.

They are also something that our own Pizza Dude, Roberto Vergalito, and this magazine want to bring to Canadians.

At the upcoming HostEx show in Toronto, The Canadian Pizza Team and Canadian Pizza magazine are hosting the first Canadian Pizza Games. We’re calling on pizzaiolos from across Canada to try their hand at the Biggest Stretch, Fastest Pie Maker and Individual Acrobatics. See page 20 for complete details … and get tossing! •