walkitout (walkitout) wrote,



Long-ish article about salt, salt regulation and industry responses in NYT. Short form:

(1) Salt causes hypertension, and not just in a few people. While industry used to argue with this, they recognize now that's not getting them anywhere.

(2) Salt makes really gross stuff look, feel and taste good. Remove the salt, and it no longer looks, feels or tastes good. In fact, it gives many of the indications of spoilage -- even when "fresh". Industry thinks this is a plausible argument for salt. I think it's a better argument _against_.

(3) If you removed the salt from a lot of stuff, people wouldn't buy it. Somehow, industry and some academics and regulators think this isn't so good -- even while simultaneously arguing that the same health benefits of reducing sodium could be achieved if people just ate less. Seems a little ... specious?

I've been tracking this issue for a while, and as a home cook with a wide repertoire (even if I don't regularly prepare a lot of it currently) and an unusually strong response to sodium (not blood pressure -- bloating), I know a lot about what happens when you remove the sodium from a recipe. And when I say sodium, I mean sodium. The no-salt baking "soda" doesn't work well, so I've had to concede that much on the waffles, but I use sodium-free baking powder and I read labels carefully. I've found no-salt-added soup, no-sodium _mustard_ (altho reduced sodium ketchup so far is just awful to me, so I've conceded there, too), no-sodium tomato sauce -- I could go on, but I already have. One of the best reasons for getting whole wheat and grinding it myself is because even good whole wheat flour from the store is bitter enough to really need salt -- but freshly ground whole wheat does not.

If the argument is that reducing sodium/salt across the board will result in food companies offering us more expensive, better quality food, and we collectively _eat less as a result_, that is _not_ an argument _against_ regulating salt.

That's an argument _for_ reducing salt.

Just because it's cheaper for food processors to kill us with crappy food does not mean we should tolerate this as public policy. Our food supply is ridiculously cheap (and not in a good way); if improving it means we have to make more of an effort to help feed the less well off members of society, let me say I'll be the first in line to happily pay more taxes to do so.
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