Archived Story

Jack Strayer: ‘Tis the season for food regulation

Published 8:05am Wednesday, November 27, 2013

For the next several weeks, following tradition, most lucky Americans will be spending hours at the dinner table, in the buffet line, at festively decorated restaurants, or in homeless shelters where volunteers will be dishing out nutritious hot meals.

This is the season to eat, but there are some in Washington DC who continue to dictate what we should and should not eat. Our forbearers’ recipes are coming under assault by an army of bureaucratic Scrooges who care more about regulating the food we put in our mouths, than the seasonal traditions of family fare.

Recently the Food and Drug Administration warned Americans about trans fatty acids, found commonly in vegetable based oils. For me, this advisory had several red flags. First, the FDA tells us that vegetables are supposed to be good for us and that we need to eat five helpings of green and yellow vegetables every day. Don’t these vegetables have oil in them? Isn’t this where we find trans fatty acids?

The second red flag is the person in charge of the FDA who issued this warning about supposedly artery clogging trans fatty acids. Her name is Margaret HAMBURG!! The irony of it all! Only in Washington would we have someone named “Hamburg” telling us how to eat. It’s as logical as having the federal agency in charge of everything outdoors called the Department of the Interior! Or a democracy where the definition of a Senate majority is 60 out of 100 votes. (I hear they are working on that one.)

Anyway, Dr. Hamburg is a highly educated M.D. from Harvard Medical School and she is the nation’s foremost expert on food and drugs. It does give me comfort that her name is “Hamburg” because with a name like that, you have more experience than most in answering questions about what foods are good and bad for us. Plus, what Senator in his or her right mind would dare vote against “Hamburg” in a confirmation hearing?

I am still doing the research on Dr. Hamburg’s eating habits because I have a sneaking suspicion that she might be one of those people on a gluten-free diet. This entire debate about “gluten” has me puzzled. Do we even know what a gluten is? I did the research and it is evidently a “tenacious elastic protein substance that gives cohesiveness to dough.” Dr. Hamburg, what does that even mean? I have eaten some gluten-free foods and all I can tell you is that gluten must be pretty tasty, because without it, our dough loses its cohesiveness and we can’t have that happen during the holidays!

To be safe, just eat in moderation and listen to Dr. Hamburg!


A native of Niles, Jack Strayer moved back home in 2009 after living and working in Washington DC since 1976. Strayer has served as a congressional staffer, state legislative press secretary, federal registered lobbyist and Vice President of the National Center for Policy Analysis. He is a nationally recognized expert on federal health policy reform and led the fight for the enactment of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

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