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Food Police Takes Aim at New Target: The Deadly Dreaded Salt

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Being a confirmed food snob, food addict and general food defender, as well as being a damned good cook leaning libertarian, I was dismayed to learn the new target in the sights of the Food Police. S-A-L-T.

Granted, I am not a defender of the heavy handed salt shaker. In fact, rarely do I use standard iodized salt anymore, instead opting for kosher or various sea salt varieties. But when the government decides it wants to regulate food and drink, this is where I jump in with my limp skinny wrists covered in boxing gloves. This is especially true when exorbitant fines are involved.

Salt, or sodium chloride, is an element that is necessary for animal life and is a necessary ingredient for food preservation. A little salt and vinegar, and you have a fine jar of pickles. It’s perfectly human to want to crave salt.

We all know what happens when one ingests too much salt. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, osteoporosis, obesity, heart problems, gastric problems, and yes, death. Of course, you could say the same about too much of anything, including alcohol, sugar, red meat, etc.

In my opinion, the problem with salt has more to do with the proliferation of fast food, convenience foods, and processed food and less to do with the actual condiment. For reasons of preservation, food manufacturers add a lot of extraneous substances (including salt) in order to extend the shelf life of their products.

Let me put on my tin foil hat and add that I also believe food manufacturers use these ingredients in order to create a dependency in the consumer. If they think a salty, slightly sugary McDonald’s bun tastes good, consumers will come back for more. If that frozen lasagna is laden with salt, you might want to go back and buy another one.

Many folks are not slaves to their dependencies. Many folks are actually thinking adults with reasonable minds and the freedom (so far) to choose. The options are simple: use too much salt or not. People should be aware of what they are about to ingest and act accordingly — not wait around for the government to issue a mandate to save us from our own peril.

To lower your intake of salt (or anything else you may want to avoid, like sugar), you may want to follow these tips:

1. Read labels; be aware. There is salt in just about everything.
2. Reduce your intake of processed food and fast food.
3. Eat fresh, and for heaven’s sake, put down the salt shaker.
4. Reduce the amount of salt in your own cooking.

As stated above, I rarely use iodized salt, and have eliminated using it in recipes. There is an upside. Poultry cooks much moister without the addition of salt. I have experimented with cookies and other baked goods. You can lower the salt or round can it all together without having the flavor of your cookies and pies affected in the least. While you’re at it, halve the amount of sugar too. Trust me. You won’t notice a difference — that is, until you eat a fast food burrito or a packaged cookie. After a few months, your adjusted palate will be able to taste the salt in a Milky Way.

Sense and sensibility will go a long way in the war against the Food Police.

About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.
  • http://lazarocooks.blogspot.com/ Lazaro

    Wonderful article. Once our society gets back to cooking at home, and stop relying on fast foods, or processed foods, people will get healthier. The only salt in my kitchen is Fleur de Sel, a French sea salt. Food should taste of itself, not like a salt lick. Great job getting after the food police by the way.

  • http://joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    These days, the only cooking I trust completely is my own. Sad, but true.

  • John Wilson

    Think again before forsaking the commercial iodized salt for true sea salt. Iodine was added to reduce incidence of goiter, which was excessive among midwesterners because of their distance from seafoods containing iodine. Do you live in the midwest?

  • http://blog.GrowingOrDying.com Les Dunaway

    Joanne,
    Well said! And I invite everyone to consider the difference in your loving advice and the edicts of the “salt police”.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Good job, Joanne!

  • Miss Bob Etier

    Excellent. I happen to be very fond of salt, but hardly ever use it in my cooking. I can think of only two applications in which I find salt necessary, and they both involve fresh veggies. I stopped cooking with salt when I was married to a man who liberally salted everything before tasting it (I was tempted, of course, to boil the pasta with about a pound of salt, but that would be spiteful, wouldn’t it?) I would much prefer that the government concentrate on the safety of food (from bacteria, foreign objects, etc.) and allow us to be responsible for what we ingest and the consequences it may have. After all, when it comes to food, take one thing away and someone will find something just as harmful to replace it.

  • John Wilson

    Salt was originally used as a preservative, and since it was impossible to rinse it all off before eating, it became an accepted taste in our diet. From acceptance to addiction is a short step.

    Once you quit salt it is only a matter of weeks before one discovers how tasty plain unsalted food is.

  • Jim2903

    The food industry is already going a good job on its own to reduce the sodium content of processed foods. This issue is, and always will be, taste. If the government meddles, you’ll just see a bunch of lousy-tasting products rushed to market.

  • http://joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    #7 Agreed. Fresh popcorn is so much better with just a drizzle of real butter (no fake buttery/salty oil) and no salt at all. How can you taste the kernels with the amount of salt the movie theater concession stands put in?