A BAN ON TRANS-FATS AND CALORIE POSTING IN RESTAURANTS! SHOULD THAT REALLY BE BIG NEWS?
Giving some time to a trans-fats ban and a calorie posting rule is nice I guess, but it still gets the focus off of what is important; high quality whole foods!
Well, you have to give it to the state trend-setters’ of New York and California. Today, we will focus on just “under the radar” regulations that are now being enforced in New York City. One of the regulations, which you may have seen being discussed in the past, is the citywide ban on artificial trans-fats in restaurants. The second regulation, one that has also been created by an anti-obesity campaign, is that specific restaurants must post calories right on the menu. If the rules are not followed, there can be a $2,000 penalty.
So, what do I think? My thought on trans-fats is simple.
Trans-fats are not a real food
and like most, if not all, non-foods, they are dangerous. Yes, there are small amounts of natural trans-fats that you may find in some foods, but these are not the non-foods that are challenging people’s health. All restaurants need to do is get back to the basics and cook with real fats and oils to escape this “supposed” challenge (reminds me of all of the negative hoopla when restaurants went non-smoking in NYC, San Diego and Austin/I am surprised with all of the negative press that these great cities continue to exist!!!). No, your vices of doughnuts and French Fries (among others) do NOT have to be cooked in partially hydrogenated oil!
Now, concerning the calorie posting rule, personally, I am torn. If you follow this column, you know that I am not a huge fan of counting calories, and this seems to just create more ammunition for those who believe that obesity is THE primary outcome of consuming excess calories. Name me a culture that is healthy and fit that has a primary focus on counting calories? Correct, there isn’t one. In a matter of fact, you could make a case for just the opposite, as we have an obnoxious rate of obesity in this country because our focus on food is in the wrong place. If you look at the statistics you will find that programs that stress these calorie counting diets DO NOT work long-term. Why? Try to count calories when you are in a depraved and unhealthy state.
What should we know when we walk into a restaurant if caloric intake isn’t the most important thing? Wow, I don’t know, how about the quality of the food? When I was growing up, I would eat fast-food maybe once a week. When my parents were growing up, they would eat fast-food maybe once every other week, if that. When my grandparents were growing up, they would be lucky to even eat any type of restaurant food ONCE A MONTH.
With our country moving from an agrarian, to an industrial, and now a technology based culture we have put ourselves in quite a dilemma. We can now purchase the highest quantities, and lowest quality, of foods for the lowest amounts of money ever in our history. And not only that, we can do it more quickly than anybody could have ever imagined.
Why not have menus that give their foods a quality rating?
Hamburger: D- (beef from feed-lot cattle (no exercise), raised on genetically modified grain/corn fed (not real grass), these animals are full of antibiotics and hormones (yes, they were sick);
French Fries: F (loaded with trans-fats/synthetic salt/GMO potatoes)
Artificially Sweetened Soda: F (no calories/just chlorine derivatives), and then, and only then 1200 calories (this is just a little less than you should be consuming ALL DAY!).
Or, for example:
Hamburger: B (pasture raised beef or buffalo (healthy animals, exercise and sun), grass-fed from three types of grass (high level of nutrients in grass, no GMO)
Side Salad w/extra virgin olive oil dressing and vinegar: A(all of our salad ingredients come from local organic farms)
16 oz. spring water: A(no chemicals/no calories).
Now, THAT menu would be giving the consumer something to really grapple with, that is, if they have any concerns about their health at all!