Question Of The Week: Are Foods Over-Regulated?

Not that there shouldn't be a watchful eye--or several watchful eyes--looking out for us, given outbreaks of E. coli and such. But groups like Centers for Science in the Public Interest would like to bar us from fast foods, butter and other threats. There was a campaign against foie gras in some cities. San Antonio might consider cutting the use of lard and other fats in restaurants. And this week the government announced plans announced to ban raw gulf oysters starting in 2011.

Yes a dozen or so people die each year from gulf oysters. We no longer follow that "months without an 'r' rule," though.

So the question is this: Are we on the verge of too much regulation? Or, conversely, is there not enough? Or maybe we are targeting the wrong areas--going after lard and raw oysters, but not adding to health inspection staffs?

 What do you think?

Results from last week, in which we asked what makes a dive a dive:

A wealth of well-considered answers to this one. Dives, after all, are near and dear to so many of us--even when we spend much of our time at classier joints.

The general consensus was summed up by this, from johan: "A dive can't be created, it just is. In fact, a dive doesn't know it's a dive. It might have once been a respectable establishment. But over the years, the seat covers on the chairs have cracked, the carpet had become stained, the decor has become dated, but the food, alcohol and service never tarnish."

Several people added color to this. For example, Handsome Lance Manion looks for "A place with low ceilings, serves a stiff pour with a bowl of some slightly stale but edible snack like popcorn or pretzels, and a bartender/waitress that sneers at you when you light up a cigarette but doesn't dare kick you out." To Sybil Summers, a dive "is somewhere you can walk in at age 19 and still be served a drink--no questions asked. Hank Williams is playing on the jukebox, and a drunken 50-something grocery store blonde is resting her cleavage on some regular so he'll buy her another Whiskey Sour." And naugesque finds a little redneck in the image, saying: If the women's bathroom only has one locking stall and has every seat loose... If the men's bathroom has only one toilet that flushes, and ice in the others... If the floor inside and the tarps over the pool tables are wetter than the outdoors after it stopped raining an hour ago... If people go anyway just to be with their community... it might be a dive bar."

But there are other considerations, including bars created to look like dives. Says Ace McGill: "Alarming trend--The bar that wants to be a dive so bad it's like a frat boy wearing pearl snaps at adairs. A dive cannot be created but it can be deystroyed." PickleTini2 agrees: "A 'dive' can't be shabby-chic. It must be just plain shabby, and the folks that frequent it want it to stay that way. But--fair warning--once Guy Fieri shows up, it's all over."

Very true.

And, finally, we're left with further questions from Bill/Phil: "Can a sports bar not be a dive (e.g., White Rock Sports Bar)? A popular dance club (Slip Inn)? Would the Cock & Bull be considered a dive, despite the nice food and ber selection? These are things to ponder."

Indeed they are.

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Dave Faries
Contact: Dave Faries