Saving Us from Ourselves

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” – Pogo I just learned my favorite restaurants are trying to kill me.

For years the restaurants I frequent have included an invisible, dangerous ingredient in my food. Each order of pon pon chicken, french fries, or doughnuts has been purposely engineered to raise my cholesterol level and make me one of the 60 percent of Americans who are overweight. No, restaurants haven’t included radon with each hamburger I consume, but they use something even more dangerous: trans fats.

Trans fats are produced when oil is partially hydrogenated. It increases the shelf life of foods but also raises bad cholesterol and can cause heart disease. Restaurants have been using them for years in things like fast food, cookies, cakes, and other pastries. You consume high levels of them just about every time you eat out.

Thankfully, New York City has discovered this diabolical plot and decided to do something about it before we turn into walking balls of butter. New York City’s Health Department is attempting to limit the amount of trans fats restaurants can serve to 0.5 grams per serving. Food from evil fast food restaurants can contain up to 10 grams of trans fats! 10 grams! I’m surprised our life expectancy isn’t near third world levels with the amount of fast food Americans consumes every day.

Restaurants obviously learned their bag of tricks from tobacco companies. Instead of adding nicotine to their food, they added trans fats to keep us coming back and consuming more of their product. I don’t know about you, but every time I walk by Burger King I order a Double Whopper with cheese. I can’t help myself! Thanks to trans fats, I’m addicted.   Another thing restaurants must have learned from tobacco companies is deceptive advertising practices. Millions of us have been hoodwinked by ads that make us think that constant eating out would make us young, sexy, and have clean arteries. Next time I see thin, happy people in an advertisement for an eating establishment, I’m going to point to the television and yell “If you really ate there, you’d be dead by now!”

I’m just wondering what’s taken New York City so long to regulate this trans fat health hazard. If the federal government wasn’t so busy with the war in Iraq, they could probably find the time to make sure we’re all eating food with little or no trans fat like scrabbled tofu, carrot sticks, and wheat germ shakes.

What I don’t understand is why the New York City is just intent on ensuring restaurants serve healthy fare. I’m sure the cupboards of most New Yorkers are brimming with foods that are loaded with this invisible killer. I think the health department should check kitchens of every New Yorker just to make sure they aren’t purposely trying to burden the public health system with their clogged arteries and heart disease.

My only wish is that most government agencies cared about our health as much as New York City’s Health Department. Since it’s the only government agency that’s expressed interest in my personal eating habits, I’m thinking about moving to The Big Apple. It may be the only way to guarantee a long, healthy life.


Enjoy what you read? Subscribe to the Abel Keogh email list. Be the first to learn about new essays, book updates, and other exclusive information. 

This essay was originally published on You can read all of Abel's FreeCapitalist essays here.