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Salt Removed, Left with Nothing.

I’m pretty sure I’m among the 1-in-4 people who have heightened taste. 

According to NPR, there are some mixed reviews about what that actually means.  I can tell you this.  It has to do with salt.  Salt is on the minds of many right now because of the push to reduce its presence in processed foods.  I even read that Lay’s is trying to engineer a new sodium chloride, which they hope will result in a tasty snack with less sodium.  I couldn’t make that up if I tried.  I can only imagine the technology and resources it is taking for that to happen.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 2007

The FDA and other organizations have been talking about salt limitations in prepared foods for some time, and the debate is gaining momentum. 

I happen to love salt.  Smoked, Volcanic, Hawaiian – I appreciate the depth and complexities of each.  I’ve been known to add a pinch of salt to my hot chocolate to enhance the flavor.  But with health concerns and blood pressure on the rise, salt is taking a big hit.  “No more salt!” is the media cry of the moment. 

But remove the salt and what are you left with?

The NY Times posted an article that describes how certain foods reacted when the recipes were adjusted to include less sodium.  They found that “[t]he Cheez-It fell apart in surprising ways. The golden yellow hue faded. The crackers became sticky when chewed, and the mash packed onto the teeth. The taste was not merely bland but medicinal.”  Not only that.  The corn flakes tasted “metallic,” the waffles “evoked stale straw,” and the butter flavor in Keebler crackers, “simply disappeared.”

We have been fooled into thinking we’re eating  food when actually we’re just eating various forms of salt.  It’s been a way for companies to get away with manufacturing junk ingredients and selling them at an inflated price.  Salt is cheap.  Fresh herbs and high quality ingredients are more expensive.  Instead of enhancing a flavor (like a pinch in my cocoa), it becomes the whole. 

It comes down to this:  more real food.  Now, I don’t know the specifics, but when I make a homemade burrito I can pretty much guarantee that it’s got less salt then if I picked it up at some fast food joint or got it from the grocer’s freezer.  Salt is not a flavor, a chef once told me.  You should never taste it.

I’m in favor of the move towards a healthier food environment in our nation, but this regulation seems to be focusing on the ‘quick-fix’ and not the real issue, which is access to, knowledge of, and the skills to create nutrient dense foods  made from scratch. 

I’ve asked this before and I’ll say it again.  Why do we spend a ton of money on big houses and fancy TV sets?  Because we believe that we pay for what we get.  Shouldn’t the same go for food?

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