What a gas stove ban means for your fave restaurants [LA Times]


The proposed law would affect only new buildings, so it means nothing for any existing restaurant.

As I wrote last year, to me this is just another chapter in the insensitivity, if not outright racism, towards Asian and other minority cuisines. Can Chinese cooking survive new environmental codes? - Menuism Dining Blog


There should be no doubt that climate crisis is real worldwide and that time us running out to have any impact if we don’t change many things at the same which have an effect on our carbon footprint (and it is also clear that just asking people, companies etc to start changes doesn’t work - so it is time for regulations. Should this regulation be the only thing implemented ? No. Should it be part of a large package of regulations ? Yes

" Home kitchens thus account for about 0.4% of U.S. natural gas use. Burning natural gas was responsible for an estimated 36% of U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions in 2020, so residential natural-gas cooking’s share of those emissions comes in at less than 0.2%… Put commercial and residential cooking together and it adds up to just over 2% of U.S. natural gas consumption."


1 Like

One point tangentially in the Times article was the relatively high cost of electricity compared to gas. The eventual elimination of gas would have a disproportionately high effect on low income, minority communities. One could argue in isolation that the intent is benign. But when placed against the backdrop of the historic examples discussed in my article including how apparently benign rules in actuality discriminated against Chinese American food products, you can’t convince me that there isn’t an element of racism, as well as cultural elitism, in the gas hookup ban movement.


The politicians who are proposing gas-ban laws generally haven’t thought about the side effects at all. It’s just a fast, free, easy way to score points with voters with superficial concerns about climate change.


How can it be racism unless the new law is purposefully aimed at Asians? It seems really unlikely that it is. I’m not saying that losing gas cooking wouldn’t be a problem but calling it racism is NOT the way to fix it.

Not true. What if somebody proposed a law to ban production of beef and milk to curb methane emissions. Nobody would ever consider such a law. But how about a law which would destroy the underpinnings of Asian cuisine. No problem! Doesn’t that tell you something?

Unless you’ve been on the wrong side of racism, racism might not be readily apparent. If you have, then you can see the patterns. My dad was the top accounting student at UCLA in the mid-1950s, and was honored at a dinner hosted by the big CPA firms. But he didn’t get a sniff at working for any of them. I remember house hunting with my family in the 1960s and after touring a house being told by the real estate broker not to bother making an offer because everyone on the block had made a pact not to sell to a minority family. Or even when it comes to food, look at the dustups over the years over Chinese food items like Peking duck, fresh rice noodles, moon cakes and stinky tofu, banned by government agencies based on non-existent public health concerns. In that overall context, the natural gas ban is obviously racist.


How did people heat woks in the centuries before they had natural gas?

If nobody brought up the use of gas in restaurants, that might reflect racist obliviousness, but that’s not the case.

Well, there were always open fires. But I doubt if the food served back then would satisfy today’s tastes. I certainly don’t minimize the climate change issue, and if they banned beef and milk production, I wouldn’t complain about doing away with wok cooking.

1 Like

As someone who has the misfortune of reviewing their HOA’s finances on a regular basis, this is a good point. And I think it’s a statement that could apply to environment regulations in general. When I see the fees and such that are involved in many of LA’s green push, I do think, “Wow, how do ‘poor’ people afford this?”

I’m not saying that I’m against such regulations b/c we obviously need to do something to save our planet. But I do have to I am sometimes confused as to the targeted populations for these regulations (I feel the implementation is deeply flawed).


I’m not wading into whether this policy is racist or not, but racism and racist policies don’t have to be purposefully aimed at a certain ethnicity to be racist. In fact, most modern politicians are smart enough to come up with not overtly racist laws that only impact races or a specific class in a manner so that negative effects are felt by those races or classes but they aren’t clearly labelled as “Anti-so and so” law.

For more information, please google “disparate treatment” and “disparate impact”.


There is such a thing as renewable gas made from biomass, so requiring new construction to be carbon-neutral would not necessarily prevent restaurants in new buildings from firing high-BTU wok burners (for which I can’t find any electric alternative).

Similar story for beef and milk production. The stuff I usually buy is already regenerative.

Home wok cooking doesn’t depend on high-BTU gas burners so I don’t think switching to electric would be a significant issue. Lots of people already have electric stoves.

Actually home wok cooking is greatly affected. When we remodeled our kitchen last year we went through a period where we had to use a flat bottomed wok on an electric stove top and the food was barely edible. Then when we bought a high BTU gas oven for the first time when we were done, I was amazed how much better our wok cooked food was. I had never tasted true wok hei at home. It was as good as restaurant food! And Chinese home cooks know this.

An interesting point is that there are two major groups besides restaurants opposing limitations on new gas line hookups. Obviously the gas companies themselves, but the other group is real estate developers. What skin do they have in the game? Well in new residential developments in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, as well as the Bay Area, a major enticement is a second kitchen called a “wok kitchen,” specially configured for high BTU gas stoves, as well as to contain flying grease. (For some reason, Chinese buyers much prefer to buy a brand new house as opposed to a house that has been previously owned. Consequently, if you track the pattern of new residential construction in the Los Angeles area over the past 40+ years, it also tracks the migration of Chinese-Americans across Southern California.) By preventing new gas line hookups, you are precluding many Chinese American buyers from buying a newly constructed home, and restricting them to grandfathered residences. And homebuilders are aware that Chinese buyers are disproportionate buyers in new communities, and want to continue to service them.


But about how many houses % are we talking looking on the overall housing market ? I can’t find any reliable numbers only that it tends to be in houses with significant sqfs (>5000) which could indicate a very small %. In addition, depending which article you read some of them indicate that gas ranges make up to 10% of the gas consumption in California which is definitely significantly enough wrt climate crisis to consider it for laws to limit the impact

What you are talking about is that laws are often crafted by people who only consider issues experienced by the majority. It is only natural that this occasionally inconveniences people, occupations, etc. that are not majority. It isn’t racism unless the purpose of the laws is to inconvenience people of a particular race or races.

Another way to look at it is to see if there are non-Asian or white people that the law may inconvenience. I suspect there are a lot of cooks who happen to be white that will also be inconvenienced by these laws. Of course, they won’t complain that their race is being discriminated against. They would be more likely to join you in your objections if they aren’t all about race but about cooking.

I do hope that the needs of all cooks be accommodated if these laws come to pass. All I’m saying is that you might be better off complaining that the new laws make it impossible to do certain kinds of cooking rather than playing the race card. If you want people to accommodate your needs it is best not to start out insulting them.

I’m sure there are other culinary ramifications of the gas hookup ban, but presumably too insignificant to be mentioned in the article. What is clear is that the detriment falls predominantly on Asian cuisines, and in addition the harm is substantial as it attacks the basic underpinning of the cuisine itself, not just a few recipes and dishes. These factors by themselves have to be a giant warning flag. And against the backdrop of things like the Los Angeles Chinatown massacre of 1871, 80 years of anti-Chinese immigration laws (sorry, the annual quota of 105 Chinese immigrants between 1943 and 1965 does not count as the end of the Chinese Exclusion Laws), my parents wearing “I Am Chinese” buttons during World War II so they wouldn’t be beaten up on the streets of Los Angeles, my being cursed as a 10 year old boy at the downtown Los Angeles Broadway Department Store for having caused Pearl Harbor, and a host of other indignities prevent me from giving any benefit of the doubt.


“In addition, depending which article you read some of them indicate that gas ranges make up to 10% of the gas consumption in California”

note that in the LATimes article, they state “… the use of natural gas in buildings. In California, it accounts for about 10% of the state’s greenhouse gas pollution.”, i.e. overall natural gas usage including heating etc. and not limited solely to cooking, reaches 10%.

Respectfully, that is an intensely, incredibly dangerous way of thinking.

TBH, I don’t have a strong opinion about banning gas ranges (esp in new construction), but

This. *1000.

When one looks around and notices that laws disproportionately affect people who look “like them” time and time again and that people who look like them are not the majority, one should always consider a racist motivation. That doesn’t mean that there IS a racist motivation, but the possibility should not be dismissed without some (very careful) thought.