Restaurant owners should stick together. Congeal, if you will. . The biz is tough enough without more input from legislators elected to run municipalities, counties, states, and the country. Where has any politician stumped for restaurant reform? In Chicago, me thinks.
While the restaurant business stalls across the country, it seems even more ludicrous for others to mandate, especially through governmental legislation, the type of oils a restaurant owner can use to cook and prepare foods.
That is the current case in Chicago where Alderman Edward M. Burke has found it palatable to consider passing legislation to ban oils that contain trans fats in the windy city´s restaurants. Burke, who has represented one of the city´s wards since 1969, is lobbying his colleagues to vote for his proposed ban. If passed, Chicago will be the first major city to pass such legislation.
Having just published an article highlighting Congressional Corruption in Policy Today, a national magazine focusing on governmental policy, I feel opining on the trans fat policy in Chicago a responsibility. Both stories seem to deal with pork barrel politics. Ironic, at it may seem, Chicago has been known as the land of the fatlanders when it comes to some politicians. Remember the days of prohibition? That famous fatty, Al Capone, and a few other guys with fat pockets became very fat there. And, it had nothing to do with cooking oil? Or did it?
Is the corruption of the French Fry the head topic on the Alderman´s list? Are Fried Artichoke hearts making gang leaders call for hits on the city’s streets? Does Burkenot realize that the restaurant business is one of the main convention draws for the city? Does Alderman Burke think that the restaurateurs who support the city through taxation, permit and license costs, and other fees, slapped on at whim and fancy, are not going to fight this ban? Or, is he trying once again to goose the owners after recently voting to ban foie gras in Chicago´s commercial kitchens.
Why not go after big oil? That’s making some people very, very, very fat. Is the Alderman really against all types of fat or is he discriminating against the trans?
Now don´t get me wrong, I am not a lover of trans fats. I am the guy that recently read, promoted, adopted and suggested that every restaurant in the country use the Sonoma Diet Cookbook as a guide to healthier foods. While on the diet I managed to lose 30 plus pounds. But it hasn´t, I don´t believe, affected my brain cells the same way Burke´s diet has affected his. People are fat. People are unhealthy. But that´s what happens in a democracy. People sometimes make wrong choices. As is obvious in the Burke situation.
Has the Alderman gone blind? Can he not see the line he just crossed over?
Government has no business in policing a restaurant´s menu. It matters not if it´s Chicago, New York, or Ames, Iowa. Under the free enterprise system let the customer decide what they want to eat or not eat. It has worked so far. Check with every restaurant owner who went out recently has gone out of business because customers opted for more tasteful venues.
Is Burke, in all his political bliss saying that people are that stupid that they cannot decide for themselves what they want to eat? Or, is he challenging the FDA, who has yet to ban the sale of oils with trans fat content?
Where does Burke presume to stop in thinking he can monitor menus in a free enterprise system. And worse yet, Burke has just slapped the face of the Nation´s Restaurant Show which calls Chicago home as it attracts hundreds of thousands of restaurateurs yearly to sample more food boasting trans fats than you would find in a co-ed college dorm during finals.
Alderman Burke must not be paying attention to what really plaques urban society. Gangs probably top the list. Drugs, methamphetamines, guns in elementary schools, murders, rapes, along with governmental nepotism and corruption are probably more important and higher on the list than trans fats. Poverty ranks in the top ten. Burke, it seems has his list turned upside down. Possibly, the good alderman, should stop chewing the fat about the trans fat in some working guy´s kitchen, and begin addressing problems that the city needs to focus on.
I have never met Ed Burke. But I will say that anyone that can be a public servant for over thirty years deserves a lot of respect and must have some stellar qualities. I am sure one of those qualities is realizing your mistakes and knowing the limitations of government. For a city to delve further into the menu development of local restaurants is ludicrous. Taxation without representation is one thing. Taxation with over representation is another.
Let´s see how owner´s feel about government not having enough fat of there own that they want a bit of ours.
Please forward this to every restaurateur you know. If you want to get in touch with No Fat Burke he can be reached at 773-471-1414. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.