Monday, October 30, 2006

You Can't Eat That

Wow NYC, for once you're beating California in terms of health nuttiness - who could have known?

The Board of Health is holding a public hearing today on the proposal to make NYC the first U.S. city to ban restaurants from serving food containing trans fats. How do you like them apples? Definitely not in a pie whose crust was made with Crisco, that's for sure.

I'm not sure what to think about this. Do we really need or want city governments telling us, in The Land of Free Will, what we cannot eat? Or do we look at this as a good thing - trans fats raise "bad" cholesterol which clogs arteries and causes heart disease, not to mention the beau coup health care bucks it costs to treat these issues.

In fact, Harvard's School of Public Health estimates that trans fats contribute to 30,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. I would bet smoking contributes to many more, yet cigarettes aren't illegal. Sure, many cities have banned smoking in public places, but that doesn't prevent smokers from buying cigarettes and smoking as much as they want in private places. And, it's proven that second hand smoke contributes to deaths, but you can puff away in the presence of others all you want if you aren't doing it where smoking has been banned.

I hope the trans fat ban will go through, if only just to see how creative restaurants can be to come up with an alternative. The way I understand it, trans fats significantly extend the shelf life of packaged goodies, so - gasp - will we be forced to eat fresher food? Gah, the horror of no squishy, cream-filled Twinkies!

We should be careful what we wish for, though. Remember when fat (just plain old fat) was the enemy? The country was saturated (ha!) with fat-free everything. A gajibillion new products were developed from fat-free cheese (ugh) to fat-free fried chicken (OK, maybe it didn't go that far but it seemed like it!) And, what did they replace all that bad fat with? Sugar and salt! And the fattening of America began as we stuffed our faces with fat-free foods that we never ate as much as before as we did then. Because it was OK - it was fat-free! No one looked at the nutrition information - because it was fat-free and therefore healthy! - and saw that fat-free Ho Hos had just as many calories as full-fat Ho Hos.

Of course, we were told wine, eggs, coffee, and chocolate were all bad, too. Now they're practically health food...so in a few years will "they" (just who the hell is "they" anyway?) tell us, oops, trans fats aren't so bad afterall...

Whatcha think?

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