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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 09.15.08
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Eat, drink, have hot dog

STANSTEAD, QC | To be fair, it was the headline and not the story itself that said Townshippers' Day would be hot dog-free. I've worked in newspapers, and I know that headlines can sometimes reflect the copy editor's predilections. For instance, a 1917 headline in the Bronx Home News read, "Bronx man leads Russian Revolution." Leon Trotsky had once lived in the Bronx for three months...

A headline may also be the result of the copy editor's irresistible urge to pun. A story about a would-be bride and groom who can't find a minister to marry them might read "Couple tied up in wed tape." Fun, but not entirely accurate.

But back to the hot dogs.

The article itself went only so far as to say that Townshippers' Day in Sutton this Saturday has "specifically targeted healthy choices" when it comes to food. So what's the unhealthiest thing the headline writer could think of? Not onion rings, not red dye no. 2, not Listeria Brand pimento loaf, but hot dogs.

Considering that the list of foods to be served at T Day includes sausages, burgers, pies and doughnuts, why would this newspaper specifically demonize hot dogs? I mean, doughnuts! Plus, there's at least one church group selling food so you know marshmallows will be involved.

In short, hot dogs get a bad rap.

Take, for example, ads currently running in the US by a group called the Cancer Project. Over images of kids eating hot dogs and other processed meats, you hear a young boy say, "I was dumbfounded when the doctor told me I had late-stage colon cancer." The boy, of course, is an actor, and the shock ad is based on a study indicating that if you eat fifty grams of processed meat a day for several years, your chances of getting colorectal cancer increase by twenty-one percent.

That's equal to a hot dog a day every day for something like nineteen years.

Ewww...

You'd have to be crazy to have the same thing day after day after day. Except coffee, of course. That's just common sense.

No, hot dogs aren't healthy. They're not even healthful (for you grammar sticklers). But neither are a lot of things, including all the car exhaust we'll be sucking up when everyone converges on Sutton this Saturday.

But everything in moderation, yes? Like Townshippers' Day, an occasional hot dog can be fun and downright satisfying (though, unlike T Day, hot dogs come with beer).

A good hot dog can't be beat.

I maintain, for example, that the only thing finer at the Ayer's Cliff Fair than a hot dog from the Quebec Farmers Association booth is a QFA hot dog topped off with a mint chocolate-chip ice cream cone from the 4H booth opposite. Surely the good clean living of the servers negates any negative effects.

Unfortunately, we're living in an increasingly paranoid age, where everything is out to get you, including meat products. We're fed the notion that food is no longer satisfied with passively killing us, it's now actively plotting to do so.

"Do you trust meat and cheese?" this paper asked earlier this week. Next week: "Is your tahini a terrorist?"

It won't be long before stores are hiding hot dogs and cold cuts behind barricades the way they do now with cigarettes (proving, no doubt, to be equally ineffective).

To reiterate, I don't know one way or another whether there'll be hot dogs at Townshippers' Day. Regardless, I think we should cut the hot dog some slack. In fact, the English community should embrace the hot dog as its official food.

Why? Because like the English community, hot dogs are made of a lot of different parts, though no one's exactly sure what.

Hot dogs are conservative but have pretty good taste.

You can pile a lot on them and they still hold up.

They're a bit thin-skinned.

They're at their best when they're steamed.

They're backed by a lot of tradition.

And, like the English community, certain people would like to banish hot dogs, but I don't think they're going anywhere.

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