Friday, March 12, 2010

Fun Fact Friday - Under Pressure

If salt was a drug, I could sell it by the gram.

What was up with those Queen dudes and that Bowie, ripping off a fine artist like Robert Van Winkle like that, anyway?

Saw a brief
news article that made me cringe, the food nazis are back at it again. A New York state legislator has introduced a bill that, if passed, would ban the use of salt in restaurant cooking. Thankfully, and understandably, the restaurant community is up in arms and fighting back.

The bill, A. 10129 (if you cared) states, in part: "No owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food for consumption by customers of such restaurant, including food prepared to be consumed on the premises of such restaurant or off of such premises."

The legislation, which Assemblyman Felix Ortiz , D-Brooklyn, introduced on March 5, would fine restaurants $1,000 for each violation. (No word on the regulation of Pepa or Spinderella.)

I agree that some fast food chains could probably cut their sodium use 90% and we'd never notice. Fine dining establishments, those that rely on the more delicate balance of the five tastes our bodies perceive, are less guilty of this, in my opinion.

Some, especially my darling wife, would suggest that I use far too much salt. I may not agree, but I can see that. However, what are they really driving at here with actual legislation to control our health, what could they hope to achieve? If I go to my grocery store, buy a Hot Pocket from the freezer for my lunch, that's almost half of my RDA of sodium right there. And who eats one Hot Pocket? Instead, I cook many of our meals at home, use fresh vegetables whenever possible, and try not to season heavily when I cook.
However, I like salt. I like salty things. Buttered egg noodles with salt and pepper, salt on eggs, tomatoes, meat. Salt on my French fries when I do eat out. But I don't salt apples or melon or pizza, like some are apt to do. I don't salt desserts, though I did just have a sea salt caramel pretzel ice cream that was wonderful, and a Lindt sea salt dark chocolate bar a few weeks ago, with the hint of salt once the mouthfeel of cocoa butter had passed. And yes, I'm being treated for hypertension. I take a little generic pill once a day and all is right with the world.

I like fat, too. Much like the evils of salt that 'those in the know' like to force upon us, foie gras faced a similar fate in Chicago some years back. Foodies are a powerful lobby, I guess, and some creative chefs found a loophole until the ban was ultimately lifted. Because foie gras tastes good. Bacon tastes good. Cheese tastes good. Salt makes things taste good, complimenting sweetness or cutting oily or acidic flavors.

Salt is a preservative. A flavor enhancer. Even a required mineral to keep all liquid from evacuating your body like a fire drill. Salt was once currency. Will legislators outlaw money next? Perhaps just in restaurants.

And they said there's no such thing as a free lunch.


Elliott said...

If you really need a fix of fun facts, and don’t actually come here just to hear me rant, check out all that Google has to offer.

This one is my favorite…

Bev said...

I have often joked that I need my own personal salt lick! I could easily give up sweets as long as I could always eat salty, crunchy things like potato chips and fries.

I don't want the government telling me I can't have delicious salt! Don't they have anything better do do...?

Oh, and one last thing - salt is iodized, and iodine is an essential nutrient that your thyroid needs to function properly. See? It's healthy! Kinda.

Elliott said...

Iodine is essential, but anyone who eats any amount of fish gets more than enough. I don't eat iodized salt if I an avoid it, it tastes tinny.

My big purchase on our honeymoon was a two-pound box of coarse sea salt that cost me $.25.

Sarah J. Bradley said...

Government of the people, by the people, for the people. Unless, of course the people want to eat food that tastes good, use tobacco products, demand their representatives actually represent THEM, or take more than three ounces of shampoo on a plane with them. Governmental bodies get to present a bill and vote on them without the common man saying boo. They've taken God and most of His counterparts out of the schools. They're taking tobacco out of EVERY PLACE. The salt out of food? What's next? Well, sugar. Then all fat. Then all anything else the government deems bad for us. Soilent Green is PEOPLE! (I'd get off my soapbox, but the government deemed soap too harsh for a tiny swamp rat in the northernmost corner of Maine, so there's no more soap allowed, hence no soapbox.

MJenks said...

Sarah's rant is full-frontal awesome. I applaud you!

Not to mention, higher end restaurants actually use higher-end salt, which comes from different sources and carries different minerals with it, so that unique flavor combinations are created when using said salts.

You forgot to add that sodium is required by the body in order to make skeletal muscles perform. Without salt, you couldn't even chew your food, or swallow it.

Elliott said...

I love Sarah for the rant, it puts mine to shame.

Mjenks, I rely on you to fill in all the technical, science-y bits of my blog, I read somewhere that you're a doctor.

tracey said...

What the crap ever happened to personal responsibility? Fire is bad if it burns your house down but it's lovely in your fireplace in December. Electricity sucks if your're sitting in Ol' Sparky down in Texas, but I'm rather fond of my hair dryer, overhead lights & vacuuming instead of beating my rugs with a stick.
My head hurts when I see this stuff on the news - the Today show talked about it the morning. Idiots. They're all idiots.

Frank Irwin said...

Ah. That explains Kate's FB status today.

That's just crazy.

Mala said...

I'm going to go eat a handful of salt* right now! F-you, Government!

(I'm such a rebel)

*By "handful of salt" I mean a nice, refreshing, salt-rimmed Margarita. What? Still rebellious.

Elliott said...

That's funny you should mention margaritas, that was Lori's first question when I told her about this article yesterday.

Happy Hour...Somewhere said...

And I thought Californian's were the only nutballs in the country. They were going to fine you out here for not checking the air pressure in your tires when you went to the gas station every time you went. I realize that gas station jockeys are a powerful lobby and all, but really, inflated tires are worth a FINE and an inspector and paperwork and rules? My head hurts and they damn well better leave the salt on my margarita.

The fat police have to be suiting up somewhere I figure.

Sarah J. Bradley said...

Elliott, you know I'm normally a polite, retiring sort of girl, but stupid things make my head hurt! LOL! Mala and new soul sisters! SIgn me up for a margarita with a big old FISTFUL of salt!

Elliott said...

HH, that's horrible. How much is the price of gas going to go up for that???

Sarah, I'm well aware of your general nature, and I'm quite pleased with your addition to my rant. I have a very low tolerance for stupid.

Margaritas for everyone!

Flame said...

Oh for the love of pete! I am so tired of people trying to save me from myself.

I need a cigarette.

Melissa said...

I know how ridiculous and horrible the proposition of this is, and have been seeing it around food interwebs for the past week. Salt is not the devil! Very frustrating.

dogimo said...

This bothered the hell out of me so much, I turned it into a civil-liberties rant on my own blog. We need to mobilize and destroy these foools.

Be nice and share!

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