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.