What Is the Difference Between Heating Food and Cooking It?

A blog about business and economics.
Feb. 8 2012 12:33 PM

What Is the Difference Between Heating Food and Cooking It?

The D.C. Office of Planning's proposed revisions to the zoning code go in the right direction, but many of them are a bit timid for my taste. Rolling back minimum parking regulations is great, but why not propose totally scrapping them and then ending up with a mushy compromise later? But the regulations designed to allow for corner stores to open up in residential neighborhoods are really hilarious. In order to alleviate noise and such concerns, any new businesses that open up under these rules will be subject to a wide range of restrictions including the fact that, according to David Alpert, "Food sales can't involve cooking food on-site, but reheating pre-cooked food is okay."

How is that going to be enforced? To the best of my knowledge applying heat to food is exactly what cooking is. And what's the point of drawing this distinction anyway? Say I want to open a taqueria. What is achieved by making me cook my carnitas off-site and then reheat them at the storefront? The implications in terms of odor seem identical, and in terms of traffic and such the restrictions will only make things worse.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.