Ken Jarosch of Elk Grove Village ordinarily raises bread. Now, the bakery owner is raising cane -- er, issues -- and won his first battle in Springfield. He never expected to be in the midst of a political debate on defeating a bill involving trans fats. Now, he's taking on the cost of sugar.
The third-generation owner of Jarosch's Bakery and president of the Chicago Area Retail Bakers Association had his first foray into politics by opposing House Bill 1600. The bill sought to remove trans fats from foods made in Illinois and was approved in the House.
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But after Jarosch and his fellow bakers showed up to provide testimony and information on ingredients, the bill failed in the Senate 13-40.
The bill's sponsor, Chicago Democratic Sen. Donne Trotter was then presented with a cupcake, but not by Jarosch.
"I'm not that bold, especially in politics," said Jarosch.
Jarosch said the initial bill intended to keep trans fats out of food in schools. But an amended version wanted trans fats out of all food in Illinois.
Well, bakers use a lot of shortening and margarine, all considered trans fats. If the bill passed, they would have had to drastically alter recipes or eliminate certain products, which would affect their bottom lines. Ironically, the bill would have made bakers rely on lard or butter instead, Jarosch said, since those are not trans fats but are saturated fats.
The experience taught Jarosch that politics isn't for cream puffs. He has a newfound respect for the work lawmakers do. But he's also concerned that legislators depend heavily on information they're provided because they cannot be experts on everything.
Now, 10th District Republican Congressman Robert Dold has asked Jarosch to be part of a round-table discussion on Thursday, June 9, on how the cost of sugar is so much higher here than if it's bought overseas.
Jarosch never considered himself a reformer. But he'll do what he can, just like his work with the bakers association. Even though his term was supposed to end more than a year ago, the group rewrote its bylaws to keep him in the top spot even longer. "This could be indefinite," Jarosch laughed.
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