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Government salt regulations

Stunning news today that the government is going to try to cut our salt intake and retrain us to like bland food. This is nothing short of a government takeover of our palate. You know the next thing that will happen, don't you, if the feds succeed in taking control of our salt? Yep: They'll come after our pepper.

Then the flakes of oregano! Before you know it, the feds are rooting around your cabinets, digging out old jars of marjoram and allspice and other stuff that you should have thrown away a long time ago. They'll take your canned food that you had been saving for a hypothetical upcoming canned-food drive for the poor. They'll grab your Kraft mac-and-cheese box and wave it in your face disapprovingly before taking it away. And then there's no longer any such thing in this country as freedom.

You've seen the bumper sticker: My wife, yes; my dog, maybe; my Tabasco, never.

These are the same people who insist on putting fluoride in our water. Yeah, fluoride's okay, but sodium chloride isn't?

The story by Lyndsey Layton says that the people who make Lay's potato chips are going to make them less salty. Well I can already tell you how that's going to turn out. Suddenly everyone is going to be able to eat just one.

By the way, is there really a Salt Institute? Is that like a think tank for salt-related matters? And what's with the name of this guy:

Morton Satin, director for technical and regulatory affairs at the Salt Institute, which represents salt producers, said regulation "would be a disaster for the public." He said that the science regarding sodium is unclear and that consumption does not necessarily lead to health problems.

The most fascinating part of this is the notion that the government can change our palate through incremental measures. Yeah, and maybe in 10 years we can be trained to like half-hour situation comedies again, and the three top sports in America will once again be baseball, boxing and horse racing.

Here's the bottom line: As a nation we've come to be repulsed by ourselves. We're overweight and oversalted. We consume too much and save too little and are a fiscal mess and have too much on our credit cards and spoil our children and live in houses that are excessively large and now, to punctuate the whole miserable picture, our government is going to have to save us from salt, or more precisely, from our palates -- from our big fat tongues.

Just watch: Someday they'll tell us there's something wrong with burning gasoline.

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 20, 2010; 8:23 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Under the volcano
Next: Knock knock. Who's there? Eyjafjallajokull.


BTW, there's a wonderful book I'd recommend called, Salt : a world history by Kurlansky. 500 pages about the history of salt. It's facinating! Venice was built on the salt trade.

Posted by: mfigiel-krueger | April 20, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 20, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they could find a way to take the sodium and the chlorine out of it, to make it safer.

Just a suggestion.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 20, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

The can already take the sodium out of it:

Posted by: yellojkt | April 20, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

This is outrageous! Next thing you know the gov'mint will be requiring clinical trials for new drugs, monitoring food-borne disease and licensing guns. There otta be a law!

Posted by: Yoki | April 20, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

His name is Morton. Reality beats humor again.

The only salt I take issue with is in Pizza Hut pizzas. So salty.

They will get my Tabasco when they take it from my hot dead fingers.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 20, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

So no more salt and pepper? Does this mean Jim Vance does the news by himself?

Posted by: kguy1 | April 20, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Can't believe noone mentioned Kvetch-22.

Reading new kit now...

Posted by: qgaliana | April 20, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I’ll give you my salt shaker when you pry it from my arteries-busted-by-high blood pressure laden, dead-by-stroke cold hand.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 20, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Some of us actually have to increase our salt intake, rather than reduce it.

Also, salt is a traditional preservative, so removing it may affect shelf life or up your daily artifical preservative consumption.

That said, there are an awful lot of foods out there that are far more salty than they should be-- largely served in restaurants. I've often been served food that's too salty to eat.

This is just going to pressure people to cook at home more. Which is...cheaper and often healthier?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 20, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Joel, are you trying to say that salt is a gateway drug?

Posted by: Raysmom | April 20, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

No mention of miso or soy sauce? Thai fish sauce?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 20, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Boodler byoolin had a blog post today about the extreme umbrage this issue can cause:

Posted by: yellojkt | April 20, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

There are several issues here. The first is if the government has the right to impose restrictions on the amount of salt in our food. I mean, in theory, labeling requirements already ensure that we are aware of how much sodium we are consuming. I mean, before such labeling existed I never realized just how much salt was in my favorite brand of Bloody Mary mix. After three or four mugs that sodium can really add up.

So what the government is really implying is that consumers are too stupid to read labels and the government must, therefore, take these steps for our protection. This is the kind of stuff that keeps Rush Limbaugh in business.

But perhaps I am being unfair. The argument could be made that consumers are far too busy to notice such things, and that added sodium is so prevalent that true consumer choice is impossible. Of course, maybe I could more easily keep my dietary libertarianism in check if I were convinced that the science behind this policy were foolproof.

Unfortunately, I have never really read anything definitive about salt *causing* hypertension or heart disease as much as salt *aggravating* said conditions. I mean, I consume a lot of salt. Salty noodles, soup, tomato juice, and salt-based snack mixes are staples. My blood pressure is just fine. But maybe I am just a freak of nature.

Which leads to the gotcha. People like salt, and it is really easy to replace salt that has been removed. (It's like when I was a kid and my mom bought low sugar cereal. We found ways around such restrictions.)

The only way that I see this low-sodium policy working is if people willingly except blander food as they wait for their taste buds to adapt. I have a hard time believing this will actually happen.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this reduction in salt will be so subtle that people won't notice.

But I'm hanging onto my secret stash of hand-raked Hawaiian Pink just to be safe.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Now we really have something to kvetch about. (Sorry, I missed the beginning of the new kit and had to get just one in.)

Not only is the guy from the Salt Institute named Morton but his last name is Satin . . . change one letter and the evil plot becomes apparent . . .

Thank heaven for Thai fish sauce, I say.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 20, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Below the salt.

Well, I feel like mold.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 20, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Of course, I like MSG as well.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Of course, I like MSG as well.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure the days of the salt and pepper shaker on every table in every restaraunt are numbered. Just like the ashtray. And the old slogan "SALT--it's what America shakes" will become folklore. Hmmmm.

Hey, but what about salt on sidewalks?

Posted by: Windy3 | April 20, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

RD, you're a youngun yet. Wait till you hit 50 or so. Or gain a few pounds.

I cannot wait till they lower the salt for chips, etc. I buy unsalted chips, when I can find them, which is not often. Tim's Cascade had an unsalted variety, but I don't see it these days, plus they're expensive. You can always add salt - although not so easily to chips. You could have some margaritas with salted rims, to make up for the lack of salted chips. (I eat popcorn unsalted too!)

Posted by: seasea1 | April 20, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Salt institute guy is overreacting. It's not like they can eliminate consumption. We would die. Literally. Not really bad hyperbole literally but literally literally. I mean there's a reason it's been a trade good since prehistory. Even If they pulled it completely out of prepared foods, people will buy it for home consumption, probably spending more than the food industry bulk rates (ie we'll salt less but pay more per unit salt).

Also, the institute helpfully supplies data on their production and it appears that food grade salt isn't even a big part of their overall output by mass.

Posted by: qgaliana | April 20, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I don't think they're taking the salt shakers away (cue Jimmy Buffett again). The Feds are limiting the amount of salt in processed food. But it's a slippery slope (especially if they limit the rock salt too).

Posted by: seasea1 | April 20, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Here's the salt quiz-

Over 50 years ago my folks took us on a public tour of the Morton salt mine in Grand Saline, Texas. I remember thinking at the time that it was better than Carlsbad Caverns. It was certainly warmer.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 20, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I don't think anybody argues that there isn't too much salt in processed food. And market forces haven't done much to contain it. I just worry about the law of unintended consequences.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 20, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if all the chlorine in salt leads to high sap pressure in plants.

Perhaps I don't have enough work to do.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 20, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

RD, the restriction applies to processed foods, of which families with kids often eat a disporportionate amount of.

Here's an example:

I've only tried one once, hated it.

Hot dogs are a common food that fussy young eaters will tolerate, yet so many brands are so salty I won't eat them if they aren't boiled first.

Aside from the point that kids who eat less salt are less thirsty for calorie-laden soft drinks...

High sodium intake will reduce the amount of calcium you retain from your diet, because it takes three calcium ions to excrete every two sodium ions through your kidneys (or so I recall).

So, your body sacrifices to boot excess sodium from your blood.

A high sodium diet uncompensated by adequate calcium can indeed set up life-long health risks. (references: some papers from Journal of Nutrition, 1993)

However, people do vary in how much sodium they may sweat or excrete.

Many people who are very salt-sensitive, such as many of African descent, actually will sweat or otherwise excrete very little salt.

This is a bodily adaptation suited to a low-sodium, low-calcium diet, but which can be dangerous with high sodium intake. A single high-sodium meal can elevate their blood pressure for 72 hours, according to one study I read years ago.

Worse, people with metabolic syndrome-- which so many Americans have now, are extra-sensitive to salt intake. And even those with hypertension not caused by salt can react to high sodium intakes.

And yes, sudden spikes in high blood pressure can kill, actually; it can trigger strokes or aneurysm.

All those are risks directly linked to excess salt, rather than an adequate salt intake necessary for survival.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 20, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Your salt-related tune cootie for the day.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 20, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

No need to thank me.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 20, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

What, no warning?!? I need to limit my Celine intake.

Posted by: seasea1 | April 20, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I have been doing all my cooking, for a couple decades now, with no more than 1/4 to 1/2 the salt called for in recipes. I find it makes no practical difference, except that you can actually taste the flavors in my food besides the salt. When I use processed foods for reasons of convenience (like if I'm starting to make dinner at about 8:30 PM), I often add some major ingredient just to dilute the salt content -- beans, tomatoes, something. I find I do not enjoy the taste of drinking sea water.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 20, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Salt can intensify sweet tastes, and often the only way to dampen down the oversalted taste is to add more sugar.

A salt addiction can indeed exist hand-in-hand with sugar addiction.

By the way, there are low-sodium or zero sodium diced tomatoes available. I always buy those.

Good luck with other canned vegetables, though.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 20, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

If we are to have a populist uprising over this matter, I am glad we are in the good company of Gandhi as opposed to some other role model.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 20, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

The French Revolution, Jumper?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 20, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Another salt-related tune cootie:

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 20, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

As a die-hard cookie enthusiast I probably shouldn't say this, but your typical Merikan faces a greater danger from the sugar in her/his diet than salt.

Fresh-baked brownies, anyone?

Posted by: MsJS | April 20, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Oh, oh, mudge! Can I play too?

Back when nobody worried 'bout no stinkin' salt.

Posted by: rashomon | April 20, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.
Nelson Mandela

Give neither counsel nor salt till you are asked for it.
Italian proverb

Posted by: talitha1 | April 20, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

MsJs, agreed.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 20, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I must say (yes, well, I *must*) that I can do very well without salt. I seldom cook with it, I add tons (relatively speaking) of other herbs and the like to my food before I nuke it (which is done without fat, typically) and I don't miss it at all. I do, however, notice it in processed food and try to limit my intake of that. Having a blood pressure of 90/60 helps, too.

*shaking off the mantle of obvious self-righteousness to more easily duck from the {salted} tomatoes being thrown in my direction*

Now, if only salt could be used to get rid of the pollen within my nasal passages and eyes.


Kvetch and the world kvetches with ya.

Posted by: -ftb- | April 20, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

For Whom the Bell Kvetches
The Godkvetcher (Parts I, II, and III)
Kvetch the Dog
All the Kvetch's Men
Love is a Many Splendid Kvetch

Posted by: MsJS | April 20, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Actually too little salt can be dangerous. Hyponatriemia is nothing to kid around with, and can also be a cause of cognitive disability or death, as it can lead to swelling of the brain.

I actually do need to pay attention to keeping my salt intake higher than in times past, because I've gone through that risk.

The real bottom line is that nobody should be required to eat highly salted processed foods or go without processed food altogether. It's too impractical for those who don't or cannot select and cook their own meals from scratch.

Beyond that base line, salt is very cheap, last I checked. Add at need/desire.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 20, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm also concerned that the whole notion of gradual weaning might not work. Unless people reduce salt in all aspects of their diet, the lack of salt in some aspects may stand out.

Now, perhaps, this will cause people to use less salt in all their food because they will have become acclimated to less from the newly bland taste of processed food. But it is also possible that they will reject, or add salt to, these processed foods to bring the saltiness up to the level they associate as normal based on the rest of their diet.

The question is what drives our taste for salt? Is it the salt in processed food that is the driver, or is the driver elsewhere and the relative saltiness of processed food merely a response?

Now, I really don't much care if they reduce the salt in processed foods. I'm not worried about salt now, but I probably will be one day and having less salt in processed food would be convenient. And I certainly applaud investigating ways to mimic the taste of more salt while using less.

But as a way to trick Americans into eating less sodium, I am taking this gradual weaning approach with, well, (and let me apologize for this in advance)...with a grain of salt.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - you are correct that having a lot of salt in processed food makes it harder to reduce their salt consumption. But that implies a motivated consumer. That is, your mindset is one of somebody who is interested in reducing salt consumption.

My concern is that the vast consumer market is dominated by people who simply don't care (even if they should) and will, consciously or unconsciously, undercut these efforts. And I have some evidence for this because low-sodium versions of common processed foods aren't selling very well.

Hence, we are back to the approach of tricking consumers into using less salt.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone disagrees that there is likely too much salt in processed food and that it may cause negative health consequences. The question is whether this is a good use of the federal governments time and taxpayers' money. There's a further question whether this is even in the top 10 of public health problems in this country. My inclination is no on both counts.

And I hate the "slippery slope" argument as much as the next guy, but this sort of micromanaging of the population opens the door to almost anything in the name of "public health."

Why doesn't the federal government mandate motorcycle helmets (withhold federal highway dollars from those states who don't comply) or ski helmets or bike helmets? Why doesn't the federal government mandate that everyone fall within a BMI between 19 and 25 (arguably the populace would be much healthier and health care costs would decline)? Why shouldn't the federal gummint ban dessert (there's no nutritional imperative for twinkies or chocolate souffle. We'd all be better off having fruit for dessert anyway).

In a nutshell, I just don't see how this rises to the level of requiring federal oversight and how it doesn't open the door for much further spending and intrusive/costly regulation.

Posted by: Awal | April 20, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Those are reasonable concerns Awal. I guess the stock answer is that society as a whole has a vested financial interest in the health of its members. That is, such concerns aren't patronizing as much as fiscally conscientious.

My concern isn't so much if this is in the Government's job jar, as much as if the strategy is going to be effective. And I hate advocating ineffective strategies just because nobody can think of a better approach.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Front page alert...just sayin'

I dunno, Awal. It doesn't bother me that the feds are mandating that food be processed with less salt. It's the same thing as mandating safe meat processing, and I certainly don't want to go back to the days when anything went. Nor do I want industries policing themselves. We know how THAT works, don't we?

I don't use a lot of salt in cooking, a habit I got into when my ex-husband had blood pressure issues. Before I got a better handle on my hypothyroidism, I could tell when I'd had more salt than was good for me, because carpal tunnel syndrome would make my wrists and hands ache like h3ll.

Posted by: slyness | April 20, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Salt, it does a body good.  we all know the body needs it.  what if the villain here isn't NaCl but rather Ca2SiO4

Posted by: omni3 | April 20, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

It's okay. I have salted away a supply of prepared foods for just such an eventuality.

Posted by: edbyronadams | April 20, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I mentioned to my wife that reducing salt intake isn't going to prevent people from getting high blood pressure. She pointed out that although this might be true, we are getting to the point where the typical American already has high blood pressure.

In other words, we are formulating policies based on the assumption that most of the country is already unhealthy.

This makes sense, but I find it kinda depressing.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Aarrrggghhh. Food with less salt is not "bland" or "newly bland"; to describe it as such is to create a false impression that one is being cheated out of what is one's due, and foments distaste unnecessarily. Food with less salt is... less salty. We have allowed ourselves to be trained to like the taste of food that is like sea-water. Just because we are used to eating revoltingly high levels of salt in processed foods, does not mean that this is normal or appropriate for our body's biochemical/nutritional needs.

My understanding is that it is correct that there is no known causal link between excessive salt and hypertension. There is, however, an apparent link between salt and elevated blood pressure in persons who already are prone to high blood pressure, and there are a lot of such people running around undiagnosed (how many, you ask? Ummmm... 4,375,672, as of today). Okay, so I don't really know how many. They tend to get diagnosed when they show up at ER's for other reasons.

I am aware that it is not healthy to eliminate salt from one's diet. I really, really, really doubt that anyone will suffer from such a problem due to a factor-of-whatever decrease in the salt content of processed foods in the US, except in really rare cases in which some unusual medical condition necessitates an intake of salt far beyond normal. It is perhaps biochemically edifying to discuss the issue, but it is a policy red herring -- a salted red herring, if you will.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 20, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Gourmet salts..

I wanna try them all.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse


Meat processing, in particular, is a bad example. I think there's extensive evidence that the USDA is actively not pursuing changes that are necessary to ensure that meat processing is as safe as it could be--oftentimes at the behest of the Tysons/Cargills/IBPs of the world.

And that is to say nothing of the unintended consequence of the increased regulations that the USDA has imposed over the past couple decades which has forced smaller-scale slaughter operations to close because they couldn't afford the additional financial burden imposed by regulation. That has had the effect of making locally raised/slaughtered meat more difficult to come by and made people much more reliant on the triple alliance of corn lobby/feedlot/agribusiness for their meat instead of local farmers.

Posted by: Awal | April 20, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

SciTim - Come on. You can claim that you don't find food with less salt bland, or that there is no biological reason for it, but the fact is many people do find it that way. I mean, salt isn't added to processed food for spite. Sure, they have been trained to feel that way, but untraining this isn't an easy thing to do.

And I agree that there might be more hypertension out there than people realize. Which is a legitimate concern.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I am disagreeing with the ugly word "bland." Bland = bad. Less salty food is simply less salty.

Yes, we like salt. We also like to eat until our pants burst, because we have no natural "off" switch for either thing. We evolved in environments where supplies of accessible food and mineral supplements like salt are not infinite, but we now inhabit an environment in which access to those resources *is* essentially infinite. We can either learn to control ourselves, or we can let evolution modify us until we are salt-proof. Evolution is not so nice as the FDA.

Food with less salt is not yucky and flavorless. It is simply less salty.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 20, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Bottom line for me is that I don't think simply reducing the amount of salt in processed food will do the trick. I'm asserting that without motivated consumers it might not be effective. Heck, I know a few folks who might over-salt their government-mandated low sodium chili just to make a political point.

And I wish I were joking.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

As far as taste goes, I'm with SciTim on this one. I think our palates are trained to respond to increased levels of salt.

My blood pressure was a little high (120/90) so I recently reduced the amount of salt in the prepared foods that I was eating. In a very short time my palate got used to having less salt in things--to the point that items I used to enjoy taste excessively salty now. I'm sure, however, with time I could go back to ignoring/enjoying the higher levels of salt. It's likely to be no different than having a bad smell in the room. Eventually your brain ignores the unpleasant stimulus, but if it disappears and then returns, it will be noticeable again.

Also related, once I dropped a few pounds (about 15 in my case), the blood pressure went down to about 110/70, which also suggests to me (based on a sample size of 1) that obesity/BMI is probably much more highly causative of hypertension than is excessive salt consumption.

Posted by: Awal | April 20, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to weigh in (hehe!). Yes, it should not be necessary, in a normal society, for the gov'mint to regulate what we eat.

That is easy for me to say. I suffer from barely-controlled hypertension, but have cooked all my food (except for road-trips!) from scratch (and I do mean that) since I was 17. I do not cook with salt, I eat very little processed food.

I just don't think we can ignore the science, and knowing that people of low income are practically forced to eat cheap filling prepared food, we can't also say that government policy should not be applied.

I would much rather that big supermarket/big box chains had to offer fresh food in low-income neighbourhoods before they got zoning permission for their new stores in middle-income to wealthy areas. But apparently there is more political will to regulate salt than to diversify the availability and price of fresh foods.

That makes me a socialist. I think I could stand to subsidize the prices in low-income areas, for the privilege of controlling my own diet.

Posted by: Yoki | April 20, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

If this is what it takes to be able to buy unbrined pork and chicken, I'm all for it. Way too salty! HFCS next!

ftb, I'd remind you of the way to use salt to clear out that pollen, but last time you thought it was too gross to countenance.

I'm sitting in the living room typing on my new, larger than life (17" screen) laptop. It was delivered to my office and has garnered a lot of frenvy. Tech with a new 'puter is like being the lab with the tennis ball. I'll refrain from prancing around the living room with it in my teeth, though.

Have a good night, all!

Posted by: -dbG- | April 20, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

There are people who will add salt to their food at the table without tasting it first, while I never do even after tasting

I will add black pepper on eggs and sometimes hamburgers w/o tasting first

For some people bland food means needs salt
For others it means needs pepper
For still others it means get something else to eat

Posted by: omni3 | April 20, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Boodle legal-eagles need to read this:

Probably one of the funniest rulings from the bench ever written.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 20, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Look, I agree that as a society we eat more salt than we should. My argument is that simply reducing the amount of salt in processed foods isn't enough. And simply telling people that less salt tastes just as good isn't, in my mind, going to do it. Which is why the government is attempting to trick people into eating less salt. I believe that consumer behavior is far more complex than that because of other influences beyond what is in processed food.

My concern is that so long as every house in America has a salt shaker salt will be consumed to the level that our palate demands. And unless all those salt shakers are confiscated I am concerned that, for the reasons I articulated before, these palates are going to be really, really hard to change.

I just want people to really think about how this might play out in the real world and then suggest ways to counter these concerns. To deny that we are a nation of salt addicts isn't going to make the problem go away.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Actually too little salt can be dangerous. Hyponatriemia is nothing to kid around with, and can also be a cause of cognitive disability or death, as it can lead to swelling of the brain.

I actually do need to pay attention to keeping my salt intake higher than in times past, because I've gone through that risk.

The real bottom line is that nobody should be required to eat highly salted processed foods or go without processed food altogether. It's too impractical for those who don't or cannot select and cook their own meals from scratch.

Beyond that base line, salt is very cheap, last I checked. Add at need/desire.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 20, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Another salt song that's both a chemistry lesson and a love song, courtesy of Kate McGarrigle:

And the lyrics:

Just a little atom of chlorine
Valence minus one
Swimming through the sea
Diggin' the scene
Just havin' fun
She's not worried about the shape or size of her outside shell
It's fun to ionize
Just a little NaCl
With an unfilled shell

Somewhere in that sea
Lurks handsome sodium
With enough electrons on his outside shell
Plus that extra one
"Somewhere in this deep blue sea
There's a negative
for my extra energy
Yes, somewhere in this foam
My positive will find a home."

Then unsuspecting chlorine
Felt a magnetic pull
She looked down and her outside shell was full
Sodium cried, "What a gas! Be my bride
And I'll change your name from chlorine to chloride."

Now the sea evaporates to make the clouds for the rain and snow
Leaving her chemical compounds in the absence of H2O
But the crystals that wash upon the shore are happy ones
So if you never thought before...
Think of the love that you eat
When you salt your meat

Posted by: -pj- | April 20, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I've been watching the comments all day and have to add. Seriously!!! You people trust the food industry to look after your best interests? They are out to make money. If they think you will spend more money on salty foods, then that is what you will get. Health be damned. Maybe, just maybe, the govmint is trying to save ahead of time. Wow, what a concept.

Disclosure: I am a registered dietitian who sees many people who have expensive problems which could have potentially been prevented with my help. Oh, and insurance usually doesn't pay for my help.

Posted by: RDptc | April 20, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Been reading and musing on all of your thoughts. Seems that those with knowledge of their own health needs/limitations are most likely already monitoring their salt intake, whether they need more (Wilbrod) or less (many of you).

I'm with RD on the "read world" practicality of convincing the American public as a whole. Depressing that those who could most benefit from a healthier diet are those with the least access to and knowledge about how to prepare it at home.

"Take it with a grin of salt" . . . . Yogi Berra

Posted by: talitha1 | April 20, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

That was RD_Padouk with whom I was in agreement. ;)

Posted by: talitha1 | April 20, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Rd, people who consume a lot of salt are often salt-insensitive. They cannot taste salt as well as others.

ScienceTim is making this point: learning to tolerate large amount of foods which are excessively salty tends to make us more insensitive to normal levels of salt in other foods. It's actually not necessary to LIKE the taste of the excessively salty food to become desensitivized to salt.

This can be reversed.

In addition a lot of foods can hide a lot of salt without tasting "salty", like bread and potatoes, so taste alone is not an adequate guide to all that is salt.

It's still people's behavior to change, of course. Some people seem wired from birth to crave salt, often due to low birth weight or other prenatal issues.

But I'd say that, if we can establish a new "normal" then people can learn that an excessive need for salt, especially under stress is often a warning signal of adrenal disorder, such as Addison's disease.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 20, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Thank you talitha.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't there a volcano scene in that excerable movie "The Core?"

Oh, wait, I'm a Kit behind. How did that happen?

And why am I so thirsty all of a sudden?


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 20, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Hello, friends. Salt, not good for you. Years ago at a large teaching hospital here in North Carolina, my doctor referred me to a team of specialist that deal with ear problems. This was before they knew what was wrong with my ears. I was placed on a very strict diet that did not include salt. None. I somehow managed to get all the salt out of my body, and ran into big trouble. I followed the diet religiously because one of my symptoms was falling down. We need some salt, but not as much as they add to some foods.

One does learn to eat without salt, and can get accustomed to that. I seldom add salt when cooking at home, and I can eat eggs without salt. But at times my body craves salt because of the medications I take which also flush salt out of my body.

I just got in from a church meeting, and our Outreach Ministry at the radio has been cancelled. The church voted not to renew our contract. Some of the members have always disliked the program anyway. I am sad, but happy that we got the opportunity to do it for awhile. I will continue to do the Bible study here and work with the after school program, hopefully. I suspect my days are numbered teaching Bible study at the church because we will probably get a new pastor soon.

It seems like so much of my work is not going to be my work anymore. I certainly hope a door opens with something else. I don't want to sit in this apartment watching television all the time. Ugh!

Have good evening, folks. I've talked too much, I know, but there's no one here, so I'm bending the ears of my friends. I'm taking advantage, please excuse me. My leg has been giving me a fit for the past few days. The doctor ordered a really strong pain pill yesterday, but it doesn't really take the pain away. I never knew a limb could hurt so bad. I haven't had a good night's rest in weeks.

Pray for me, folks, and I still pray for you. Love to all. Night, boodle.

Posted by: cmyth4u | April 20, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

That, Talitha, and the fact that processed food is cheaper and more convenient to purchase and prepare than fresh food.

Yello, that is indeed hilarious. Do you know anything about the case? The attorney much be very persistent.

Posted by: slyness | April 20, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone remember back in the late sixties and early seventies (as I remember) when they sold rock salt in five and dime stores as candy? I tried it once and tasted nothing appealing

I'm thinking of a conspiracy theory

Posted by: omni3 | April 20, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - I'm not talking about a few people who can't taste salt. And I'm not talking about a few foods where the salt doesn't matter.

I am talking about the response of the majority of Americans to reduced levels of salt in processed food where the salt is there for a reason.

Now, there are three reactions to gradually reducing salt in such foods. First, people might rejoice that they are suddenly freed from the tyranny of over-salted foods, Second, people might simply not notice and, as you point out, accept a new level of normal. (This is certainly what the government is hoping.)

But the third possible reaction is that people will simply view the food as insufficiently salty (call it what you will) and reach for the salt shaker. Heck, hey they might even give it an extra shake or two.

Now, as I have said, maybe I an wrong. But I think *at the very least* that last scenario needs to be acknowledged as a very real possibility for a large number of people and thought needs to be given as to how to deal with it.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Does the FDA have any jurisdiction over restaurants? At a local Italian chain resto, I swear that everything they served was an attempt to pickle the customers. I found one item on the menu that was not over salted.

That said, the place is popular. Are people's taste buds that out of whack that the government has to protect them from themselves?

Posted by: edbyronadams | April 20, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't see how they can deal with it, RD, other than sending the "salt police". I have friends that put salt and hot sauce on snack foods now, and most of these snacks are basically just salt. I don't think adjusting the level of salt in food will impact these folks for good. I think we're always going to have a segment of the population that loves really salty food. Some have the shaker out now.

Posted by: cmyth4u | April 20, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, exactly. When I worked teaching art at an inner-city Baltimore afterschool/summer program I became more aware of the miserable fresh food distribution/availability. Ands even though the big Lexington, Cross Street, etc. Markets were right there the folks seemed hell-bent on eating fastfood and pre-packaged junk. Like I said, depressing.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 20, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Yes, RDptc. I think people are debating whether this will actually induce people to change their salt intake, not realizing that sodium is already everywhere, including stuff that they don't expect it in, like cough medicine, and that if they have others make their food, they don't have as much say in controlling the sodium content as they think.

For instance, a single one-ounce slice of bread may have more sodium than 8 oz of steak. And we will not even speak of bagels.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 20, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I'm sorry to hear you're not feeling well. I hope your leg stops hurting right now.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 20, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I am sorry that you are in pain, hope you can get some relief soon. I'm also sad to hear that the radio program is at an end and that some of your other duties at church may change. I can't believe that the new pastor wouldn't value your help tho', so hang in there.

I agree with RDptc, as a dietitian, I'm sure your views are more informed than ours. I do feel that a lot of the salt that is added to processed foods could be removed without many people even noticing - only because there is so much of it in some things. It's true that other herbs and spices can add flavor without salt use but how many people are going to take the time to do that when they're already buying convenience foods instead of making their own?

I was talking with my 11 year old granddaughter today about how 27% of our youth are too fat for military service and that led to a discussion of good and bad (junk) food. Of course we had this talk over home made cookies... but they didn't have any salt in them!

Posted by: badsneakers | April 20, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Never mind bread! There is a favorite steak marinade that is very popular where I live (GA) that has 1200 mg sodium per
1 T!!!

Posted by: RDptc | April 20, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

What Yoki and RD say.

WB -- you are right about hidden salt.

Michael Pollen is right:

Eat food; mostly plants; not too much.
By food he means simple and good and home-style rather than prepped. For example, a ham and cheese sandwich beats a ham and cheese Hot Pocket hands down. The Hot Pocket is cheaper and temps us with convenience and the sci-tech of prepped food.

My children go (went) to school with children at risk for poor nutrition and increased health risks (67 or so percent of the body qualify for free and reduced lunchs/breakfasts)...the school lunch program in the country is an abomination! We should work there with limited choices, all of them reasonable and healthy. Jamie Oliver led the charge in England. Hope that M. Obama can turn the tide here too.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 20, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

RD, choice #3 then will be THEIR choice. I have no problem with that.

It's a free country. All they have done is prove to themselves that they do indeed have more control over what they eat. Congratulations, big boys and girls.

The converse is not true under the old scenario.

Just try going to the movies and ordering unsalted popcorn. Or finding unsalted microwave popcorn. One pretty much has to go back to the old air popcorn popper for that.

See how easy it is to make the unpopular choice everyday. Try and find low-sodium bread is also a fool's errand. You're better off baking your own.

And so on, until you realize that to truly live diligently on a low sodium diet in America means avoiding almost every kind of food that isn't in its raw state and even minimally processed. Sadly, a lot of chickens are sold brined.

Millions of Americans don't have time or want to cook everything they eat. So they eat more salt than they should. They say "just this once, I'm tired." Once becomes five times a week, maybe.

So, why do you think giving people more chance to control their salt intake would be ineffective?

It's not that easy right now. Just because some people resent such methods, doesn't mean the idea isn't good. Most people go with the quick and easy choices. Sad, but true.

So, why should we go with the quick and easy hypertension choices currently offered by the food industry?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 20, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, dbg and badsneakers.

So much of the reason for the weight increase in our youth is due to convenience and bad diet, but convenience is at the root of it all. The pace is fast and not many of us sit down and eat as a family anymore. Grabbing food as we move or doing the time saver which means not cooking or cooking something fast, which is loaded with salt or sugar, take your pick.

Posted by: cmyth4u | April 20, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I've never used steak marinades, RDptc. Wasn't even in my thoughts. Steak's too good for ketchup of any sort.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 20, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, agreed. When we're rushed, we don't read labels. We just want to get something to eat.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 20, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

My morbid sense of humor gets the best of me at times like this. Hey, if everyone is obese at 30 and dies a horrible death by 65... the social security trust fund will survive!!!! In a related topic, anyone had one of those new KFC sandwiches that people are lining up for... cheese and bacon between two pieces of breaded fried chicken? Mmmmmm mmmmm mmmmm.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 20, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

What salty talking!

Hey... here's what happens when you pit technology against technology... or something like that...

Posted by: -TBG- | April 20, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

I am a proponent of tough love. People should be allowed to eat themselves to death. In a tough love world, it just makes the healthy more likely to succeed. Note to self: begin work on a salt patch. Delivers the equivalent of a packet of salt, but over a span of a few hours. I'll call it Packaderm.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 20, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

What phony outrage from the lunatic right. Food has been regulated since 1907. Before that, when there was no government regulation of food, food suppliers did wonderful things like dead rats, rat poison, rotten meat, spoiled vegetables and all srts of assorted nastiness into the food supply. Even with laws regulating the food supply as soon as a republicons get the WH and start stocking the regulatory agencies with industry lobbyists we get poisoned peanut butter, poisoned spinach, poisoned baby food, poisoned pet food and all sorts of things because food producers are in it to make a buck and if they think that sloppy food handling or adding dangerous ingredients will make that happen then they do it.

So if food producers are putting so much salt in prepared food that it is killing us wihtout our knowledge how is that any different than i=f they slip in a few diseased downer cows or some rat crap? Is that what the republicon position is? We should just take our chances that there is no poison, rotten food, tainted food, lead, or whatever in our food (lead tstes yummy, Romans used it to flaovr wine -- with the expected long term results...) because we should al be "rugged individuals?" Should we all have the "freedom" to be poisoned because food producers can make more money by killing us? What an absolutely assanine philosophy republicons/conservatives live by.

Posted by: John1263 | April 20, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Off topic. I see my Red Sox are losing 6-2 right now, and have allowed 9 stolen bases while throwing nobody out. I'll trade you for the Nationals even up.... even with them losing 10-2 right now. Zimmerman back with a homer, though.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 20, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I am sorry to hear about your pain. You know I will keep you in my prayers. I hope your church will find a new pastor who will take advantage of everyone's talents, including yours. Your late pastor was obviously an incredible individual, to have shepherded your church for over 50 years. All of you must miss him.

Posted by: slyness | April 20, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Mmmmmmm, pork rinds/oreilles de Christ. Just the right balance of fat and salt.

"A 1 ounce (28 g) serving contains zero carbohydrates, 17 grams (g) of protein, and 9 g fat." and about 0.45g of sodium, that is about 5 times as much as for the same quantity of potato chips. And then who can stop eating after only 10z/28g of pork rinds? Take 3oz and get all the Na you need for the day.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 20, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

SCC 1oz/28g

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 20, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Soon, Obama will ask Pelosi and Reid to begin drawing up Medical Sodium Chloride legislation including a heavy use tax for purchasing salt above and beyond government regulatory limits.

Posted by: logicprevails | April 20, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Just saw an ad for a new movie starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchet, called..."Robin Hood." Yes, the promo says its takes place "before" Sherwood Forest.

Wow. RC should make a dynamite RH, and CB has never made a bad movie, has she?

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 20, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Russel Crowe in tights playing someone 20 years younger than he is. Can't wait to buy that ticket. *sigh*

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 20, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Russell Crowe in tights playing someone 20 years younger than he is. Can't wait to buy that ticket. *sigh*

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 20, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

oops. Sorry.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 20, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Headline 2014: US Government requiring cereal manufacturers to increase iodine supplements to counteract the epidemic of goiters that the salt reduction caused.

Posted by: mb129 | April 20, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

s'okay, shriek.

Of course, I agree with you.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 20, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - Again. For the last time. This program is not designed to help motivated people already seeking to reduce their sodium do so more easily. It is designed to gradually wean people from salt who aren't motivated to do so. And if such people simply add the salt back in, then the program will have failed to fulfill its intended purpose.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Back now. Less uptight. Bought two new suits. ScienceSpouse is horrified at the price. I'm such a clothes horse!

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 20, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Are they are going to try to control how much salt I toss over my shoulder? Sigh.

Posted by: --dr-- | April 20, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

And will a pinch of salt still be a pinch?

Russell Crowe as younger Robin Hood? In Tights? Say no more. Where can I get tickets?

Posted by: --dr-- | April 20, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Or, RD, they're trying to get back to reasonable levels of salt in processed foods, so that people don't get used to higher levels of salt in the first place.

"But for the past 30 years, health officials have grown increasingly alarmed as salt intake has increased with the explosion in processed foods and restaurant meals. Most adults consume about twice the government's daily recommended limit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

David Kessler wrote a book about restaurant meals, and how salt, sugar and fat are added to them to keep you coming back. I don't see anything wrong with this being regulated, even though it hasn't been till now. First salt, then high fructose corn syrup!

Posted by: seasea1 | April 20, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

I mean, look at the article. FDA sources aren't saying "We are responding to a groundswell of frustration that low-sodium options aren't available," nor are they saying "We understand that most people hate that gross salty flavor of processed foods forced on them by industry." The money quote is:

["This is a 10-year program," one source said. "This is not rolling off a log. We're talking about a comprehensive phase-down of a widely used ingredient. We're talking about embedded tastes in a whole generation of people."]

And my concern is that this is going to be *incredibly* difficult because those "embedded tastes" are going to fight back hard.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

I understand that's the intent seasea, but as I said back in my 6:22, I have reasons to be pessimistic about this strategy.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Note to self: forget salt patch, though name still works wonders. Go for new infomercial to combine obesity and desire to rebel.... sick of tattoo fad wannabes? Be your own person and try barnacles! Easy to attach and thrive in new salt-laden environment. Be the first on your block, for only 3 easy payments of 19.99.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 20, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Good evening all.

*Tim, I'm with you on the less salt does not equal bland thing. Some of the tastiest flavors can be oh-so subtle, and easily missed if over-salted. If eating were just for nutritional value, we'd all just take a pill.

Yoki, that's not what makes you a socialist.

RD, yes, some will pick up the shaker and add more than was taken away. But I'm not so sure they're not the target audience.

Wilbrod (I think it was Wilbrod), the government has long controlled what we put into our systems. Whether it be alcohol at 21, cigarettes and taxes, weed (happy 4/20 to all you who celebrate), what constitutes ketchup, or whether we can say peyote is part of a religious practice, the government's been there. We've already seen changes in acceptable levels of trans-fats and how they are labeled. Adding salt to the list isn't all that big a deal. And over-salted bread is so easily detected. Like a box cake. Yuck.

Off to do yet more laundry. Have a happy night all.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 20, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

And just as salt was increased in processed foods as a preservative and as a palliative (see the David Kessler article), the salt will be *gradually* decreased. The idea is that most people won't notice. Or like SciTim and me, will be grateful.

Posted by: seasea1 | April 20, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

SCC: But I'm not so sure they're the target audience.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 20, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Kevin Durand, the guy who played bad guy Keamy on Lost, is Little John.

Max von Sydow is Robin's dad, Sir Walter Loxley (I thought it was spelled Locksley, but I guess not).

William Hurt is William Marshall. Mark Addy, from "Still Standing," is Friar Tuck. Scott Grimes from ER is Will Scarlett.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 20, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

"A man must eat a peck of salt with his friend
before he knows him" . . . . . Cervantes

I promise that's the last salt quote I'll inflict on you, though I have one from Job that may apply at some point. ;)

Posted by: talitha1 | April 20, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

I caught a brief snippet on NPR, in which they mentioned that the salt-reduction program is modeled after a program implemented successfully in Britain. Empirical evidence thus suggests that in the tension between the desire for continued saltiness (as cited by eminent researcher RD_Padouk) vs. the inherent laziness of humans (evident upon inspection), laziness takes the day.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 20, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps barnacle idea too risky. Look to purchase out-of-favor restaurant chain on the cheap for quick makeover/turnaround. Go with aquarium theme, and offer one-of-a-kind eating experience. Large central tank filled with salty water and teeming with small ocean organisms. Each patron is fitted with porous plates held in teeth as they swim for hours in a water wonderland, filling themselves to bursting. I'll call it Romanos Macaroni Krill.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 20, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

I think in taste tests the subjects report more salt as "better" but I doubt they report the lesser amounts as bad tasting. I don't like it when french fries aren't salted. But then again, I have french fries maybe 6 times a year; that's it.

Maybe "too much salt" could be restated as "not enough water."

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 20, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Sal Paradise?

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 20, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

My fear is that BigFood will replace salt with some other chemical with a similar taste. It will then turn out that this substitute is even worse for us.

The local news just ran a news story on the salt issue featuring a local spice company that uses literally tons of salt every week.

They then unironically told about the Army being worried that the obesity epidemic is affecting recruiting.

Since salty foods are tasty, perhaps the taste leads to overeating of fatty salty foods and swigging overly sweet HFCS. It's all a big conspiracy. It's no coincidence that Pepsi owns Frito-Lay. We don't let them put cocaine into Coke anymore.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 20, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

At least Max Von Sidow (81) is old enough to be Crowe's dad. Actually old Max has a set children older (and another set much younger much younger) than his putative son general Maximus Decimus Meridius.
Is there a crying need for yet another lousy Robin Hood movie?

Alan Rickman as the sheriff of Nottingham stole the last movie from Kevin Costner, and rightfully so. Who's going to take on the volatile Crowe?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 20, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

I don't find Russell Crowe appealing. Not sure why. He's enough to make me stay away from a movie, although I suppose he's a good actor. I'll await your reviews.

Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes almost make me want to see Clash of the Titans, although I've heard it's awful.

Posted by: seasea1 | April 20, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

@LiT "some will pick up the shaker and add more than was taken away."

Actually, that's not likely. I believe that salt manually shaken onto food currently contributes in the neighborhood of 15% of people's sodium intake. The vast majority is already in processed foods.

Salt on the top of foods is inherently "saltier" than salt hidden inside foods, since it comes in direct contact with your tongue. You'd have to sprinkle much less salt to get the same perception of saltiness.

Generally, potato chips don't have a huge sodium content per serving (relative to many other foods) since the salt is finely milled and applied to the surface.

Posted by: Awal | April 20, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

shrieking, completely agree with you about Alan Rickman in Costner's clunky Robin Hood. I will actually watch that just for Rickman's performance . . . or anything else he does, actually.

But Daniel Day-Lewis and Neeson draw me in every time.

With or without salt.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 20, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

No tights in the new RB movie

TIghts came much later, something like a hundred or two hundred years later

Stop thinking Errol Flynn and 'Men in Tights'

Cate rocks and so does Russell

But Cate Really Rocks (and I haven't seen a less than great Cate flick


And I think yello has a good point about the fake salt, that stuff is way nastier

Get sea salt and a sea salt mill (no additives (or go Kosher maybe

Posted by: omni3 | April 20, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Good point Awal. IMHO all the fast food, chain restaurants and convenience foods that people eat has ruined their taste buds and most wouldn't know really good food if it bit them. Maybe regulating salt in foods might eventually help to reawaken the appreciation of well prepared and seasoned meals. Or not.

Russell Crowe does nothing for me either, and the previews I've seen for Robin Hood are laughable. The movie appears to have a cast of thousands, I didn't think there were that many people in England back then ;-)

Posted by: badsneakers | April 20, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

And when there's a problem (contamination, bacteria, unsafe additives) in the food supply, we scream, "What happened to the Government regulations protecting us?!".

What makes sodium cloride the exception?

Posted by: veerle1 | April 20, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Joel's story on (not) predicting volcanoes is up. A reference to an ethnically Irish, politically British island is misplaced: he was meaning a French island.

I haven't read it, but Akenson's history "If the Irish Ran the World: Montserrat, 1630-1730" sounds intesting, if discouraging.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 20, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse


One person's "oversalted" is another person's "just right." Personally, I know what oversalted is to me, and it's relatively easy to taste.

Also, there seems to be some variability in the health effects of salt on individuals. If the Government feels the need to step in and regulate salt content in foods (say, as a measure to reduce Heath Care costs), well, I'm willing to listen.

But outlaw salt shakers and only outlaws will have salt shakers.


PS steveboyington, I seem to remember somewhere sandwiches of fried chicken and/or bacon cheesburgers served beween a Krispy Kreme donut sliced in half. Like, wow.

Posted by: -bc- | April 21, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

It's called the "Luther Burger," bc, for reasons that seem unclear.

Posted by: rashomon | April 21, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

What I meant to say is that it's named after Luther Vandross, for reasons that seem unclear.

Posted by: rashomon | April 21, 2010 12:37 AM | Report abuse

This isn't a I'm fer it or I'm agin it sort of thing. I think the notion of reducing salt to processed food is reasonable. As I said from the beginning, it makes life easier for those who really want to reduce their sodium.

But I think it is a bit naive to believe that in and of itself this is going to have the huge impact on health that people would like to see.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 21, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Moderation is good. Doesn't happen to be one of my strong suits, but they assure me it's good.

Posted by: Bob-S | April 21, 2010 2:45 AM | Report abuse

Moderation in all things. Even moderation.

You're making too much sense again. We've warned you before.

Awal has a lot of really good points too. Perhaps salt isn't the biggest health risk in America (heart disease aka being too fat for the ole' ticker is probably still #1), but it's a low hanging fruit.

However, this may be a tougher sell than the Administration realizes. Us Murikins are notoriously resistant to people telling us what to do for our own good.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2010 6:42 AM | Report abuse

I've been thinking about this a lot, and I guess it comes down to "New Coke."

To claim that people will either happily or meekly accept dietary changes is a narrative. And, of course, it could be true. But it isn't the only narrative.

Even in the presence of sound empirical research, consumer behavior can be unpredictable, especially when it comes to what we put into our mouths.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 21, 2010 6:50 AM | Report abuse

George Will on Colbert. It's funny watching a fake pretentious conservative face the real thing.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Yes, RD, it will be interesting to watch how this unfolds. I hope it will work. Do others here purchase low-sodium products, as I do?

Morning, all. We had rain in the night, a good thing. Maybe the pollen level will be donw today. It's going to be a busy day, so I'd best get started.

Hi Cassandra! Hope you feel well today.

Posted by: slyness | April 21, 2010 7:05 AM | Report abuse

No one has mentioned the Government Salt Panels.

Let's not be dissin' Russell Crowe around here, please. There may be some fans among us. I'm just sayin'.

Hope y'all have a great day. I'm off to the... wait for it... salt mines!

Posted by: -TBG- | April 21, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: -TBG- | April 21, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: Raysmom | April 21, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

April 22 is Industrial Revolution Day!!!

Celebrate the event which moved humanity into a better future....industrialization.

Today is the day for the loser left to dare to be normal!

Posted by: georgedixon | April 22, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

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