Practice Savory Eating: Use a Condiment

I consume a politically incorrect amount of table salt. It's not often that the taste of my food cannot be enhanced by a supplemental sprinkling of this much-maligned condiment.

Occasionally, my thoughts turn salty, especially when confronted by one of those elfin, formal dining table shakers. You know, the ones with the bullet-like cap and one tiny hole that defies passage except by one grain at  a time, and not without athletic effort. I much prefer something on the order of perhaps a small mason jar, maybe with a side handle. I avoid low-sodium food products like the plague. They are without exception bland -- epicurean failures of the first order. If you don't believe me, open a can of the "Healthy Request" version of chicken noodle soup offered by the country's premier producer of canned soups. M'm. M'm. Bad!

At table, I don't like being cautioned about salt's presumed harmful properties by a gasping, well-intentioned, vigilant member of the thoroughly indoctrinated salt police. "Salt's bad for you!" Case closed. What an unfortunate, uninformed commentary on a mineral that at different times in history has been seen symbolically as a sign of fidelity, usefulness, and strength, used in Roman times even as a medium of exchange. The truth is that the question of salt's effect on general health has been a matter of scientific debate for many decades absent a conclusive finding. The case is far from closed.

Despite the absence of hard evidence that the general application of dietary salt is harmful, our government has initiated a plan to poke its nose under my dining table, and it looks as though I may soon have to consider stockpiling my favorite condiment.

The food and drug regulators (FDA), not content with safeguarding the populace against the real threats of, say, salmonella or mad cow disease, have decided to wage war on secondhand salt. Of course, they've hand picked the mandatory so-called "panel of experts" to help them intrude into my pantry. The FDA is proposing over a ten-year period to require food producers to substantially, but gradually, reduce the sodium content in all food products -- in other words, to make them taste like the cardboard they're packaged in. With this ten-year sleight of hand, they hope to dupe the palates of American diners, who they say will, over time, get used to blandness...for their own good, of course.

It hasn't exactly been a secret that too much salt may not be good for some diners. I say "may not" and "some" because despite doctors knowing for more than a hundred years about a connection between salt consumption and elevated blood pressure, there is no consensus on whether or not restricting the use of dietary salt is a good idea for everyone. This after 20,000 studies on the subject. It makes about as much sense to take away everyone's salt options as it would to mandate that everyone exercise or lose weight or quit smoking because these impositions will also benefit the hypertensive.

It's estimated that 75 million Americans have "high" blood pressure. That is a large number for sure, but if those on the high side choose not to voluntarily limit salt intake in their own best interest, even after years of anti-salt government and medical profession harping, is it fair that overreaching regulation should deny upwards of 225 million of us our version of an appetizing meal? Have a strong heart and low blood pressure? Too bad. If they can't or shouldn't have salt, neither can you. Kind of reminds one of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid ill-considered plan to ruin medical care (and the economy to boot) for the majority of Americans in the cause of providing for 30 million uninsured. Sometimes the government giveth, and sometimes it taketh away. No matter which, the majority usually suffers at the hands of ideologues who are not worth their salt.

I need a fix. Please pass the anchovies...and the saltines.

Rod Jaros is a retired public school educator, formerly employed by one the of Northeast's most progressive school systems.
I consume a politically incorrect amount of table salt. It's not often that the taste of my food cannot be enhanced by a supplemental sprinkling of this much-maligned condiment.

Occasionally, my thoughts turn salty, especially when confronted by one of those elfin, formal dining table shakers. You know, the ones with the bullet-like cap and one tiny hole that defies passage except by one grain at  a time, and not without athletic effort. I much prefer something on the order of perhaps a small mason jar, maybe with a side handle. I avoid low-sodium food products like the plague. They are without exception bland -- epicurean failures of the first order. If you don't believe me, open a can of the "Healthy Request" version of chicken noodle soup offered by the country's premier producer of canned soups. M'm. M'm. Bad!

At table, I don't like being cautioned about salt's presumed harmful properties by a gasping, well-intentioned, vigilant member of the thoroughly indoctrinated salt police. "Salt's bad for you!" Case closed. What an unfortunate, uninformed commentary on a mineral that at different times in history has been seen symbolically as a sign of fidelity, usefulness, and strength, used in Roman times even as a medium of exchange. The truth is that the question of salt's effect on general health has been a matter of scientific debate for many decades absent a conclusive finding. The case is far from closed.

Despite the absence of hard evidence that the general application of dietary salt is harmful, our government has initiated a plan to poke its nose under my dining table, and it looks as though I may soon have to consider stockpiling my favorite condiment.

The food and drug regulators (FDA), not content with safeguarding the populace against the real threats of, say, salmonella or mad cow disease, have decided to wage war on secondhand salt. Of course, they've hand picked the mandatory so-called "panel of experts" to help them intrude into my pantry. The FDA is proposing over a ten-year period to require food producers to substantially, but gradually, reduce the sodium content in all food products -- in other words, to make them taste like the cardboard they're packaged in. With this ten-year sleight of hand, they hope to dupe the palates of American diners, who they say will, over time, get used to blandness...for their own good, of course.

It hasn't exactly been a secret that too much salt may not be good for some diners. I say "may not" and "some" because despite doctors knowing for more than a hundred years about a connection between salt consumption and elevated blood pressure, there is no consensus on whether or not restricting the use of dietary salt is a good idea for everyone. This after 20,000 studies on the subject. It makes about as much sense to take away everyone's salt options as it would to mandate that everyone exercise or lose weight or quit smoking because these impositions will also benefit the hypertensive.

It's estimated that 75 million Americans have "high" blood pressure. That is a large number for sure, but if those on the high side choose not to voluntarily limit salt intake in their own best interest, even after years of anti-salt government and medical profession harping, is it fair that overreaching regulation should deny upwards of 225 million of us our version of an appetizing meal? Have a strong heart and low blood pressure? Too bad. If they can't or shouldn't have salt, neither can you. Kind of reminds one of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid ill-considered plan to ruin medical care (and the economy to boot) for the majority of Americans in the cause of providing for 30 million uninsured. Sometimes the government giveth, and sometimes it taketh away. No matter which, the majority usually suffers at the hands of ideologues who are not worth their salt.

I need a fix. Please pass the anchovies...and the saltines.

Rod Jaros is a retired public school educator, formerly employed by one the of Northeast's most progressive school systems.

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