Monday, April 14, 2008

Trans Fat Ban Goes Local

In local news, Stamford Connecticut has decided to ban trans fats. I caught Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy on the radio this morning talking about the ban, and not surprisingly, I was less than impressed. It's not just that these intrusions bother me, it's the utterly ridiculous ways they're justified. In his brief radio interview, Malloy compared trans fat bans to vitamins in milk and water fluoridation, neither of which are programs mandated by law to the exclusion of other options. Milk producers choose to fortify some milk with vitamins and some water systems add fluoride to their drinking water.

Worse yet is the arrogance of "we know what's good for you" that takes on dimensions of cultural and racial bias. Malloy pointed out in his radio interview, that well over 30% of his city's population was born in other countries and may not have the education we natural born Americans have about the relative health merits of various cooking techniques. He then mentioned that the McDonalds and Burger Kings of the world had already made the switch away from frying in trans fats and it was mainly Chinese, Indian, and Latino restaurants that hadn't yet made the switch. Cultural elitism is cultural elitism whether it comes wearing a white hood or a health inspector's badge. It's not a question of the relative merits of cooking with trans fats, but a question of the role of government.


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