Thursday, March 11, 2010

The right for Maid-Rite

  The big news in the Marshalltown papers this week is the proposed outlawing of the mass preparation of the loose meat sandwich known as the Maid-Rite . At issue is the time-honored practice of keeping the cooked and uncooked loose meat together and the risk of E-coli (No cases of illness have been reported thus far). The owners of the local Maid-Rite contend that if the new preparation laws take effect, they will have to purchase new $7,000 cookers that can only churn out 20 pounds of meat an hour instead of the current 65 pounds and they will have to close their business. Nothing in my 15 years in Marshalltown has galvanized public opinion in town as this issue. A facebook page has been set up and collected over 5,000 friends in a week. Even the State Legislature has gotten in the act to save the maid-rite tradition.

  While I love the immense amount of political pandering going on, I don’t like the idea of cooked and uncooked meat together. All it takes is one person not following procedures or the cooker malfunctioning and there will be a lot of sick people. The maid-rite customers have probably been exceedingly lucky to date.

  I find it ironic that this debate comes while researchers and authorities are talking up the idea of taxing soda, pizza, and other unhealthy foods ostensibly as a way to
battle obesity. The research comes as excellent cover for politicians as they struggle to find ways to raise revenues from a cash-strapped public. What averaged-sized taxpayer wouldn’t jump at the chance to tax some slob who is reaching for another soda, candy bar, donut, Twinkie, Big Mac or even –yes- a Maid-Rite? Maybe we could pay for free salads for the rest of us. No blue cheese dressing or croutons though, just a little vinaigrette if you must.

  There are some problems with the junk food tax. The tax is regressive since a 350 pound bank CEO would snack on the same number of Ho-Ho’s as a 350 pound factory worker or homeless person. In order to redress this inequity, a Democratic Congress would arrange for a subsidy to allow the unfortunate people near or below the poverty level to be able to have the same snacks as the privileged few, while a free market Republican Congress would want to sign trade deals with other countries to bring in cheaper snack items that more Americans can afford.

  If we really want to control obesity as a country, start a new cabinet level Department of Fitness. It could establish a standard weight for every American and lock them away in ‘fat prison’ when they are overweight until they get back down to a healthy level. All the census takers will be hired permanently to walk around with scales and weigh their assigned portion of the population. This will also solve a lot of the unemployment problem. The only downside would be the needed bailout of the pizza and donut industries.