The Great Trans Fat Donut Debate of 2011

San Francisco city officials banned the use of trans-fat for frying and baking on the first of January. Trans-fat is primarily a preservative used for baking incredibly delicious yet horribly unhealthy treats, such as one of my personal favorites, donuts.

The saga of banning trans-fat for donut cooking is years old, but this is the first San Francisco has seen of an official ban. Many bakeries use trans-fats to increase the shelf life of their pastries and many are upset that they are unable to do so anymore.

While this is all well and good, I had one question when I first read about the ordinance to ban trans fats for baking purposes, what are trans fats? For answers, I turned to my good friend and patisserie student Hallie Reiss.

“Basically trans fats are chemically based cooking oils. They’re like Taco Bell, not real food,” Reiss said. “People use them in chips, donuts, fast foods, anything that needs to be preserved for a long time.”

Reiss also said that because something is “trans-fat free,” does not mean it is fat free. “Trans fat is just another element of fat, it is an entity all it’s own. The ban is good because trans fat is bad for you, but it’s bad because food goes bad real quick.”

That all being said, it’s time for the great donut comparison of 2011, coming up is a personal study of donuts. I will be sacrificing myself at the altar of taste, smell and fruit flies to document the difference between a San Francisco, home made dynamo donut, and an out of city, no name, corner store donut (which will have more trans fats than the fancy Dynamo donut).

Within the next week, I will be photographing and taste testing the difference between the two donuts, and record all my findings in this very blog. (I will also be cross posting this to my personal blog) The whole thing will end with a chart and final article on my donut findings.

Hold tight gentle readers, the donut madness is about to begin.


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