I think one of the worst trends in our modern culture is the general lack of outrage. I suppose guided by the sleek, cool reaction of Jon Stewart, people are afraid of passionate opinions today; preferring instead to look above it all and far too cool to actually believe in anything.
Maybe this “too cool to care” trend is why chefs have remained largely silent on the creeping regulations on food and the efforts by the government to limit our food choices.
And there are some real doozies out there! Let’s tick down a few of the latest examples of outrageous behavior by government food regulators:
–In North Carolina, it’s illegal to get a burger with a hint of pink in the middle. That’s right; the State actually bans restaurants from preparing rare or medium rare burgers. The logic behind the ban? Those pink burgers might be breeding grounds for bacteria and it could hurt you. Well, hello there hockey puck! I’ll risk it, thank you very much.
–In several major cities (and soon, the entire state of Illinois), legislators have banned the use of oils containing trans-fats, forcing many restaurants (particularly bakeries and ethnic restaurants) to use more expensive oils that don’t contain trans-fats.
–In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg wants to limit the amount of salt chefs can use while cooking. Ask any chef his opinion on what item he couldn’t live without in the kitchen and I bet he’ll put salt right up there with his sharp knives and his heavy bottomed pans. Salt is simply critical to good cooking.
–In Pennsylvania, Amish farmer Dan Allgyer was recently arrested by FDA agents for selling raw milk. Raw milk is currently banned by the federal government.
Time magazine’s Josh Ozersky just wrote a wandering piece asking if chefs are responsible for the obesity “epidemic.” He doesn’t come to any solid conclusion (totally normal for Josh who seems more comfortable bashing Denny’s for their bacon menu-which I wrote about here) but the charge should be enough to enrage chefs who do what they’re supposed to do–produce food that tastes good.
But instead of outrage, chefs have stayed silent about this creeping regulation. They’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with the chief regulator, First Lady Michelle Obama who touts her Let’s Move campaign as working for healthier kids. We haven’t heard a peep of disagreement from chefs when Mrs. Obama bashed restaurants for having the nerve to serve their patrons large portions. They’ve remained silent while she’s criticized of grocery stores for stocking unhealthy snacks.
And they’ve remained largely silent when the government starts arresting Amish farmers and fining kids for operating a bunny business.
What’s next? Is the FDA and USDA going to start closing down the neighborhood kids’ lemonade stand? Or maybe they’ll start shutting down restaurants for serving unhealthy food.
Chefs should wake up. It’s time for a little outrage.