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February 13, 2010

Salt Nazis

By Sarah

Are you a salt or sweet person? Okay, let me ask it this way. After a tough day, do you reach for the potato Chips ahoy  Chips  chips or the Chips Ahoy?

Either way, your days are numbered - at least in New York. Because along with banning tobacco, like, everywhere (except places where people still smoke!), and trans fats, Mayor Bloomberg is targeting salt. He wants to drastically reduce its use in New York restaurants. You can do that when you've got that much money, I suppose, eliminate the one commodity credited with expanding civilization.

Think I'm exaggerating? Salt allowed would-be nomads to stop constantly killing and eating and start killing, preserving, packing away and traveling. Rome was built with roads leading to salty seas. Roman soldiers were paid in salt. Salt ruled, man.

And it kills. And saves. It's a constant contradiction. Too little on a hot day of labor and you can pass out. Too much and your veins explode. (Well, not really, but kind of.) You can actually die from eating too much salt at once, just as you can die from drinking too much water (and not eating enough salt.) It's a balance.

Me, I'm not much of a salt person. Take it or leave it is my philosophy. However, I distinctly remember Herbs  coming home from college and nearly dying from the amount of salt ladled into my mother's food. This was in the day before herbs de Provence, when salt and pepper and maybe oregano equaled the total contents of our family spice cabinet.

If you're savvy, you've noticed that even items not labeled "low sodium" are lower in sodium. Soups are a perfect example and for good reason. One can of Campbell'sCampbells   chicken noodle and you're parched for a day.

But here's my question: when it comes to a mineral as basic as salt, does the government have the right to limit it? Or should we be allowed to modify our own intake? 

After all, last I checked there's no second hand salt effects. Though, there are probably studies proving the opposite, just as they've raised the specter of "third-hand" smoke.

Lemme know!



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My biggest concern is the new fad of "sea" salt over "iodized" salt. Your body, particularly your thyroid, needs iodine. Without it we could see an increase with goiter. Ditto on the overkill of sun blockers. With kids today more incline to be in front of a video game than playing in the park, combined with too much sun blocker when they do venture outdoors, they may not be getting enough vitamin D. This can lead to rickets.

My biggest concern is the new fad of "sea" salt over "iodized" salt. Your body, particularly your thyroid, needs iodine. Without it we could see an increase with goiter. Ditto on the overkill of sun blockers. With kids today more incline to be in front of a video game than playing in the park, combined with too much sun blocker when they do venture outdoors, they may not be getting enough vitamin D. This can lead to rickets.

FYI: The "White Death" struck Charleston, SC last night. With an overnight low of just under 30 and an expected afternoon high of around 50, anyone who has lived for a winter above the Mason-Dixon will shrug this dusting off. For natives of the Palmetto State it has resulted in a severe bout of the vapors and a run on smelling salts.

Forgive the double posting of the first paragraph of my previous post. Consider it a gift from the "Department of Redundancy Department" or the blame it on the snow.

Don't smoke. Don't drink. Don't eat what you want. Don't have sex. Die anyway....

Anyone remember the movie "Sleeper"? Woody Allen is frozen and thawed out 100 years later. Scarily, 2069 doesn't seem so far off now.

He asks for Tiger's Milk and organic wheat germ for breakfast. They serve him steak and a cigarette. "The healthiest things for you."

Oh well, I can always make some side cash salt smuggling.

Salt is also responsible for high blood pressure, so in a way there is a secondhand salt effect. High blood pressure, as my daughter the nurse always says, is a heart disease. It makes us more vulnerable to obesity, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and diabetes. All of these health issues, when covered by insurance, make insurance cost more for the rest of us, just as hurricanes and floods make other kinds of insurance cost more. The insurance companies have to spread out their costs to cover those who are most in need, and those of us who strive to lead healthier lives get screwed financially.

Mayor Bloomberg is probably tired of eating oversalted food when he goes out to eat, and I don't blame him. Even some really "good" restaurants compensate for poor quality by overseasoning with salt.

By the way, lemon juice makes things taste salty without adding any additional sodium.

The high sodium in prepared foods is one reason I cook so much. When I went to Italy my roommate was British, and she remarked on how good the bread was because it had no salt or sugar in it. The light bulb went on! It really does make a difference in the taste, and now I can barely stand the bread in some restaurants because it has way too much of one or the other.

But I admit to craving both salty and sweet stuff. Salty nuts, generally (although I'm trying to eat the ones that have less salt), and dark chocolate anything, as long as it isn't too sweet. Hey, it's my one vice. I'm entitled, right?

My favorite scenes in "Sleeper" was when they found the old VW bug and it started and the burger count on the McDonald's sign.

Is this "Bring Your "Y" Chromosome to the Blog Day?"

Chocolate-covered pretzels. In an ideal world, all my snack are both salty and sweet.

I am a big opponent of government-mandated 'healthy' living. I was even against the smoking ban - and I hate smoke. Why? This is exactly why - if the government wants to make high salt counts illegal, then let them get the votes to do so. Hah. As if they can get anything done.

Please don't start on the second hand smoke thing - I get the health risks. But tobacco products are legal in this country - at least they used to be. Same with salt. These regulations are just back door ways of controlling all of us without affording us the protection, checks and balances that our system of government is designed to provide.

I've said it before - this leads directly to chocolate rationing. And then you will see tanks in the streets of Pittsburgh.

Beware of politicians telling you they know what's best.

Soooo....I say just put salt licks on every corner with a watering trough next to it. No wait. People might use it for something else. I know...make people pay extra for it. Altho' that doesn't seem to be working on cigarettes or alcohol that I can see and the sex trade certainly is flourishing.
Does anyone know what the hey ho difference is between a high priced call girl and does it involve salt?
Just asking.
Rod you can bring your chromosomes to the blog any day as far as I'm concerned.

Kathy, in general my politics lean slightly left of center, but I completely agree with you on not mandating what we eat or otherwise do, regardless of how unhealthy or unsafe it might be. The government interference, largely a result of lawsuits, has gotten ridiculous.

Rod and Xena, get a room already. lol

Xena: I've never tried salt on a high priced call girl. Sounds less fatting than whipped cream.

I once asked my wife what she would do if she ever caught me in bed with a hooker and she just laughed. "I'm not worried. You won't even spend $50 on a pair of shoes."

She is a keeper.

Rod, you are on a roll today! Have we told you lately that we love you here on TLC?

I'll bet Tiger Woods has uses for salt that none of us have ever considered...

Kathy: I'm in the middle of that lovely slap happy period I always have after finishing a novel. I'll return to my default of curmudgeon soon enough.

I don't care about salt one way or another.

But sugar? Ah, there's another story. Put me down for Sugar, All The Way. When people describe a dessert as "too rich" or "too sweet" I don't really understand what they're saying. Isn't that the whole point?

I'm with Kathy. The day they regulate chocolate, tanks will roll down the street, even here in LA.

After attending nutrition classes and poring over books concerning diabetes I have become somewhat educated about diet and other matters. But I must say that guidelines and menus are difficult to assimilate. Portion sizes, times of day and all are a way of life for my husband.
When I became his caretaker in diet matters it seemed overwhelming. The dietition told me that he should take control but I do most of the planning.
To me studies change every day. Blurbs about coffee say that drinking coffee reduces risk of diabetes.
Third hand smoke is a new theory so I say clean your house and reduce risks if indeed this will cause your child problems.
My theory as probably uninformed I might be is promote more happiness in your life. If that means a drink or two, an occasional chocolate bar or a great meal. Stress is the greatest contributor to bad health. I have first hand experience with this.
Be grateful that we have a choice every day to bring some joy into your life.
Sift through information and let common sense guide you. If this seems preachy I am guilty. But by God, I would go batty if I worried about things that I cannot control.

Salt? Sugar? Chocolate? Bah.

Try and regulate my coffee, see what happens....

If someone is going to ban a food additive I wish it were garlic. Seems like all the chefs/cooks nowadays think every dish has to have garlic - and not just a dash but lots of it - or their food won't taste good. My thinking is there are plenty of seasonings, see lemon juice recommended above by Karen, fresh and dried herbs that any decent chef/cook can make a delish meal without loading up the garlic. I can't stand the stuff. Me I'm a salty person and we have lots of flavored sea salts here which we use sparingly AFTER the food is cooked and regular iodized salt in the cooking process. You just need a dash or a pinch of sea salt to have that special flavor. By the way, which is bigger a dash or a pinch?

I'm a salt person. But I do wish processed foods didn't have so much salt. They don't really need it.

My question is....if the Republican party is so gung ho on less government, why are they for these regulations? Why are they anti-choice? Against same sex marriages?

Just sayin'.

I'm with Karen, there's way too much salt in processed food, and people who eat a lot of it (think those unable to afford or even find fresh veggies--think the urban poor) suffer obsity and high-blood pressure problems to a greater degree than the rest of the population.

People are conditioned to eat too much salt (and high-fructose corn syrup) because that's the way it's presented to them. And that's why I no longer eat restaurant soup and only eat low-sodium canned soup. Heck, in the last four months, I've made four big pots of soup because I want to know whats in it. (I also gave up canned beans and now use dried for the same reason.)

I'm for regulation. Most people haven't educated themselves by reading labels, and have no clue what they're putting in their mouths. Higher health care premiums are the cost.

Jumping off my soapbox now.

Whoever said chocolate covered pretzels are the bomb is spot on.

And I'll need a lot of it. Fred, our basset, was hit this morning by a neighbor's car. I feel awful - for Fred, for the neighbor - and just glad he's alive.

BTW, dear folks, Happiness to me is when my husband's doctor tells him all the numbers are good on his last visit Yahoo!
Back to the menus!

Sarah - poor Fred! Poor you! Please keep us posted!

Oh, no, Sarah! How is Fred? And how are you doing through all this?

Cyber-chocolate coming your way.

Lorna, add fast food to that mix, too. There is so much salt and corn syrup in fast food, and the poor are the ones most likely to eat it, again compounding their health problems.

My nephew found out last year that what they thought were his daughter's behavioral issues were caused by serious allergies, most of which are exacerbated by processed foods and almost everything they serve at McDonalds. He says it's so tempting to get her a $1 hamburger when a $3 healthy meal is better for her. Cheap food is not necessarily cheap, I guess.

Rod - IOCHFTS so I'm glad you're here! (Dusty really has been slacking off, or something like that LOL)
Jodi - smidgen, dash & pinch are actual measurements.
dash - 1/8th tsp
pinch - 1/16th tsp
smidgen - 1/32 tsp
yes, I have a set of the spoons to prove it! LOL

I'm salt. Love salt. Salt on tomatoes. Yum. Peanut butter. Almonds with salt. There are some caramels that have salt on the top. Yum. (If you just eat one. After that--overload.)

But. Making rules about salt? It's tough--because if manufacturers persist in making food in ways that are cheap but unhealthy, and the public has no real way to know that, mandated education is a good thing. It's just deciding where does the education versus over-regulation line fall..

Still, was on a plane last weekend, and tried to remember what it was like when there were smoking sections. Remember? And doesn't that seem ridiculous now?

Hugs to poor Fred! He'll be okay, right?

Thanks, Rita. I knew they were real measurements I just didn't know which was bigger. Wow! spoons that measure them. That's too cool.

Rita: IOCHFTS too. And any woman who knows the exact measurement for a "smidgen" is hot, hot, hot in my book.

Don't smoke. Don't drink. Don't eat what you want. Don't have sex. Die anyway....

Have I mentioned that I love William?

Hank, truffles with sea salt.

Just saying.

Sarah-I hope Fred will be okay-that's awful. Rod, you are an endless source of fun, enjoy your floating. I can take or leave salt, but don't mess with my carbs-any shape, any form. Hope the weather gets less disturbing for you folks in the south. We've had snow twice in the thirty years I've lived on the northern CA coast. Now they need snow in Vancouver...

Thanks, KD, but it's not an original. Oliver Reed said three out of four in an interview back in the 1960's. I added the "Don't eat" part because of Sarah's blog...:)

Healing thoughts coming Fred's way, and hugs, too.
I think outlawing foods it's too much, but requiring honest labeling might be good . . . My occasional visits to fast food places diminished after seeing "Super-size Me."
Please explain "third-hand smoke."
Now, to some intense reading time . . . talk to y'all later.

Years ago I cut salt from my diet...then I began to develop a goiter. Yeah, that sucks. My doctor told me to put iodized salt back in my diet--how many people have their doctors tell them to use more salt? My little goiter is long gone now.

Chocolate covered pretzels!!! Yes! But it must be dark chocolate.

Hugs to you and Fred, Sarah. I hope he's okay.

I had a sea salt, caramel hot chocolate the other day at a fabulous chocolate shop downtown. It was so wickedly perfect! This is what happens when salt is applied by skilled hands. Why choose one or the other, sweet or savory, when together you get magic?
But OK. Fine; take my salt. I'd rather add the proper amount than be subjected to over-seasoning I guess.

Karen, we have truffle flavored sea salt. It is incredible.

I love sugar and chocolate and most things that are bad for me. As my grandmother (who made a mean fried chicken) used to say, "Eat up. Nobody gets out of this world alive."

Elaine, I love your grandmother! She and my grandma would have gotten along splendidly -- and maybe are . . . wherever . . .

Fried chicken! One of the most perfect foods on the planet.

Truffle flavored sea salt? You had to mention that, didn't you Jodi? LOL

Cyrano's in Webster Groves serves dark chocolate covered bacon . . .

I'm a sweets girl all the way. I don't have a sweet tooth, I have a mouth full of them. But I wouldn't turn down a chocolate covered pretzel. or ten.

I don't think there should be laws against salt. I do agree there should be labeling so that people have the opportunity to regulate their own intake. And it is unhealthy to eat too much. I don't use a lot of salt in cooking, though I do use it at the table. Thank God, I've never been a big fan of fast food or canned vegetables.

And I was just thinking the other day about the prevalence of sea salt, and wondering if people were going to start having problems with their iodide levels. Kind of like the bottled water and fluoride thing.

I'm very sad about Fred. I hope he'll be OK.

. . . it's actually pretty good, in a surprising way . . .

My grandmother had a recipe for oatmeal cookies that used bacon grease. To.Die.For.

Actually, salt is NOT responsible for high blood pressure.

In the medical advice book, "You" by Dr. Oz (and another doctor), they explain "why are people, with EXISTING high blood pressure, advised to avoid excessive salt?".

Salt does NOT CAUSE high blood pressure; But, is used to treat the symptoms of high blood pressure. Medical people asked "how can we lessen the blood pressure? well, by reducing the volume of blood in your system. Since normally salt helps retain some fluids in our bodies, if we had a lesser amount of salt, then we would have less fluid in our system, which would mean less fluid to pump through narrow arteries.

If you are healthy person, with normal heart health and arteries, eating salt does not matter - your healthy system just pumps your blood normally.
If you have existing high blood pressure, due to the narrowing of the arteries - then you limit salt, so there is less volume of blood to pump through those narrow arteries, and then will lessen the pressure.

salt makes everything taste so good though...

Back when my father was alive (and no, he didn't die of anything blood-pressure related) he got hold of a roll of "SALT FREE" stickers. My dad loved potato chips. It took my mother years to figure out that all those bags of chips my dad was bringing home weren't really salt free.

Chocolate covered pretzels. Oh yum. Good thing that I will be in Hanover next week and can stock up on their dark chocolate ones!!!

I tend to do a lot of cooking and baking (dreaming of a real kitchen someday), and always laugh when my dad complains about something being too sweet or not salty enough. I guess that this discussion explains it....he prefers salt. :)

However, I must admit that my true weakness is brownies. Yes, my brownies. And not because of the middle layer. Well, maybe, but not always.

Sarah...how is Fred doing? Hopefully, he is doing better and maybe will have learned to stay away from the road?

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