Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Campaigns old and new

Wonderful news that New York City has come down hard on trans fats. And bravo to Denmark for its ban.
But the battle is immense to alert the world to this sinister ingredient. We have been eating it haplessly for years. Unsuspecting. Well, why should we? And, it is not as if the food and catering world was at fault. After all, it was we who wanted to stop eating animal fats as the cholesterol panics swept the world.
How were we to know that the healthy substitute was worse by far?
And what commercial kitchen would not prefer the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil which lasts so much longer, does not go rancid, enhances food flavours and improves shelf life? A wonder oil!
Ah, but as in so many cases, if only we had known.
Our young have been devouring trans fats in their muffins and cakes and cookies and fries for years now. It omens badly for them.
The cholesterol we were trying to lower by moving to vegetable oil has done the opposite. Our cholesterol would be healthier if we were cooking with lard, it turns out.
What a catastrophe.
But the world is slow to catch on.
I phoned a couple of major catering companies and asked their buyers if they were using trans fats. "What's that?" they said.
Oh dear.

How long will it take?

Meanwhile, as the governments of the big countries push global warming to the headlines, realising at last that the situation is urgent, urgent, urgent, I think it is time for some apologies to the environmentalists of yore - who have been on this bandwagon for decades.
These brave, outspoken and erudite people have been victims of a long-term smear campaign by the corporate interests of the right. They have been dismissed as "greenies" and "hippies" and "lefties"... But they have been right all along.
Even now they gain no credit for their work in trying to spread the word.
Fortunately, gaining credit was never their motive. It was always the planet. So, as one of them, I think I speak for many in saying one can only be glad that the world at last is taking notice, albeit rather late in the global day.
Now we just need to work together!

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