Saturday, November 17, 2007
Remembrance of Things Fried
Some people's nostalgia has no limits. An article in this weekend's AM New York by David Freedlander entitled, "Is NYC trying to go sin-free?" bemoans the possibly imminent extinction of the city's OTB gambling parlors.
The article begins, "First it was your cigarettes. Then it was your cheeseburgers. Now they want your racing form."
Cheeseburgers? First of all, if billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg is having qualms about bilking the poor souls with too much time on their hands who frequent OTB, one can't really fault his motivation. But what irks me is that this writer is trying to draw a comparison with the landmark 2006 law that made New York the first city to ban artificial trans-fats from restaurants.
Let's get something straight. Nobody has banned cheeseburgers. As unhealthful as they may be in excess, they are still available everywhere. Second, a cheeseburger is a lousy example of a trans fat food anyway. There may be some hydrogenated oil in the bun, if it's crappy, or in the cheese, if it's a fake, processed "cheese food product," but that's it. Deep fried items like french fries and onion rings are the real target of this ban. Or donuts and pastries, etc. And those items are all still available, too, only now they are fried in less processed oil, which makes them somewhat less deadly.
One average local denizen is quoted as saying, "New York is less fun because we can't do anything anymore... we have no liberties." Gimme a break.
Freedlander even goes so far as to consider all this part of the trend that started with Giuliani and the "Disneyfication" of Times Square. But are trans fats really a lost relic of "old New York," poetic symbols of a simpler, lovelier time, a scruffier, more authentic era, a lost innocence?
No, they are a result of the agricultural-industrial complex that produces inert food with a long shelf life, thereby shortening the shelf lives of all who consume it. Good riddance.