Ben Brothers over at Badger Blues (I just love alliteration) has chimed in on the Great Madison Trans Fat Debate
. Unfortunately his argument takes a wrong turn in the early stages. Mr. Brothers tells us:The appropriate analogy to a trans fat ban is not a ban on Twinkies or a ban on alcohol. It’s a ban on E. coli, or shit, or mealworms…
This is an incredibly specious analogy. Trans fats are, as he points out, fats whose carbon atoms are oriented a certain way. They are not
fecal matter, they are not
bacteria, and they are not
larvae. A more apt comparison is of trans fats to artificial coloring and preservatives. His analogy only serves to paint portraits of the Krafts and Archer Daniel Midlands of the world with horns and cloven hooves. This disingenuous semantic sleight of hand is about demonizing Brother's enemy, not describing food.
His motives are understandable given the title of his post: "Trans fats are about corporate responsibility, not personal health". But I think that even the title is a bit misleading. Readers are urged to not think of trans fats as "unhealthy ingredients", but rather as "pollutants" added to food "because it is cheaper for large industrial-scale food producers to use them instead of more natural (and edible) alternatives." He also favors "a city-wide effort to replace school lunches with locally-grown, organic foods from farmers in Dane County and Wisconsin."
Mr. Brothers is keen on a ban instituted by the state:A Wisconsin-wide prohibition, on the other hand, would be a great idea, and could even have the added salutary effect of helping out our organic growers, family farms and local restaurants, who would be at less of a disadvantage against large conglomerates who can leverage the industrial food processes that benefit from trans fats.
Mr. Brothers has a bone to pick with agri-business and wants to co-opt our state government to exact a vendetta against it. To this I say: No, no, no – a thousand times no! How many years of legislative debate and how many bans will we have to suffer until you can drink your organic ginseng-laced herbal tea while watching as the walls of the Kraft corporate headquarters come crumbling down and the upper management of ADM commit seppuku? How about an explicit set of criteria for how far you want to go instead of "Big corporations are bad". Just as I object to Mr. Rhoads wanting to use the coercive power of government to force a lifestyle of which he personally approves onto everyone, I also object to Mr. Brothers attempting to use the coercive power of government to lash out at businesses of which he personally disapproves in an attempt to create a bucolic paradise where people drown themselves in a gluttony of locally-produced organics.
I too have a bone to pick with a certain sector of the food industry. But I will not ask Brenda Konkel, Mayor Dave, or Jimmy Doyle to pop into a telephone booth and don a cape and tights with a big "B" blazoned across the chest so they can go out using their superpowers to ban ingredients.
My suggestion that the city remove trans fats from the menus of our schools seems to be popular so I went and looked at the December Elementary School Breakfast & Lunch Menus
. It looks like a ban on trans fats here would be a Pyrrhic victory, at best. This is because chicken nuggets and French fries cooked in trans fat-free oils are still shite. I'll wager that mealworms have more nutritive value than that crap. I was disappointed to see that we are feeding kids Poptarts & nachos but was absolutely appalled that we have a "Pizza Hut schedule". Henry David Thoreau would spin in his grave if he found out that the school named in his honor was feeding kids that slop.