Okay, there are trans fats and there are trans fats. Some are made in factories by mixing various oils with chemicals and food coloring. They’re not exactly found in nature and they’re sure as hell not something you want to stick in your mouth. Then there’s the kind of trans fat found in meat, butter, and other “real" foods.
There’s evidence (albeit limited) that the human body needs those kinds of trans fats. According to a recent piece in the New York Times, trans fats that occur in nature help the body “can be used by the body to synthesize conjugated linoleic acid, a good fatty acid that could help prevent diseases like cancer." (From Kim Severson, “Trans Fat Fight Claims Butter As a Victim," NYT, March 7, 2007).
The amount of trans fat in a tablespoon of butter is minuscule. But it’s there and it’s probably useful.
Too bad, says the FDA, which has pronounced all trans fats equal and equally bad.
The result? Big companies like Starbucks are requiring their food vendors to eliminate ALL trans fats, even the ones from butter. No more real croissants, at least not at Starbucks. Just another example of the cult of victimization run wild. Another example of various bureaucrats believing that Americans don’t have enough sense to think for themselves.
Another example of common sense tossed right out the window.
Common sense? What, you ask, does that have to do with trans fats? In my opinion, everything. If Americans would eat REAL food, we’d all be healthier and happier. People who try to “diet" by eating fat-free cookies and cheese are missing the point -- to say nothing of missing out on honest nutrients that the human body needs and wants.
You want to eat “healthy"? Fine. Eat a balanced diet of proteins and fats. Vitamins and minerals. That means eat REAL food, not the fake shit being passed off by manufacturers and the government as “good" food. But here’s the scary part. Know what else contains trans fat? Meat.
So what’s the next stop on this slippery slope of irrationality? A ban on meat? No more burgers? No more chicken nuggets? Or worse yet, the introduction of “fake" meat that contains no trans fat -- and no nutritional value? Who knows. But stayed tuned for the next episode in The Decline of Civilization As We Know It. Meanwhile, I probably can’t persuade people to stop drinking Starbucks coffee, but I hope they’ll think twice before they shell out big bucks for the “food" being sold there.
Better yet, track down a copy of Michael Pollan’s piece titled “Unhappy Meals," in the January 28, 2007, New York Times Magazine. It’s a well-reasoned plea to eat real food. Here’s to ya.