Thursday, June 3, 2010

Salt Regulations Are Racist

Are these attempts at salt regulation racist? Well, what about religious groups that use salt for the purification and preservation of their food. Cured pork products are vital to many ethnic groups cooking styles, including African-Americans and Eastern Europeans. Kosher meat can not be Kosher without salt. It is entirely dependent on salt for its purification. Without salty soy and fish sauces, there is no Chinese food, Japanese food, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Korean, etc., etc. What do these salt regulators have against Jewish and Asian people?

Isn't it racist to regulate a food so vital to a particular religious or ethnic group? And if these ingredients get an exemption then what's the point of the regulation to begin with?

Okay, the "racist" claim was just fun (or was it), my real beef with salt regulations are as follows. Let's be clear, compared to our pre-refridgeration days, we eat tiny amounts of salt and we need salt to survive.

My principle concern is these "regulations" are the camel's nose under the tent. Once they start banning salt in food industry products and restaurant food, what is to stop them from regulating the use of salt in our homes?

And who could go without salt. I would like to see that. I'd like to see someone go completely without salt for more than a week without some kind of bodily harm. No salt means no tofu or soy based products. No yogurt, no cheese, no processed dairy of any kind. No bread, no pasta, no cold breakfast cereals of any kind including granola. No pickles, no condiments (mayo, mustard, ketchup), no deli meats, certain vineagers, no ham, no bacon, no processed foods of any kind, no restaurant foods of any kind.

Basically you are looking at a diet of plain veggies, fruit, meat, and unproccessed carbs like baked potato or rice (no salt in the cooking water by the way).

Think that is doable? Then try to eat a Sushi dinner without salt. You can't eat the miso soup, nor ginger dressing on the salad, and no soy sauce or wasabi on the sushi. Oh and better make sure that sushi rice is unseasoned cause you can't have rice there either. Better stick with plain sashimi and some lettuce. Enjoy.

These anti-salt idiots can go without if they choose but they should stop forcing their crap on us. And that's the gist of it, isn't it. These salt regulations are designed to control us.

The funny thing is, I'm not crazy pro-salt either. But I worked in restaurants, in the kitchen, for years. I reviewed restaurants in college and I am an accomplished home chef. Yet, I tend to cook without as little salt as possible, discourage my children from eating (too much) salt, and do not purchase a lot of processed foods. You will find, however, that I have five different salts in my house - nearly all were purchased more than a year ago. I'm not anti-salt by any means but I am not a salt addict either.

To me, this attack on salt, is an example of politicians who are not experts impacting entire industries because of a few bogus lobbiests. Many of the anti-salt studies are funding by dubious groups. Groups that actively campaign for policies that would remove our choice of foods. Hypertension is not entirely salt's fault. There are genetic, lifestyle and even environmental links as well as a diet high in salt. If you have hypertension, you can choose to eat low sodium foods. There are plenty of products on the market for that.

But if these pols succeed in regulating salt, then it takes away the right to choose from all of us. My neighbor has very low blood pressure, he is concerned about this salt restrictions because he needs salt to keep his blood pressure up. His wife is a personal chef who could be put out of business if a salt regulation requires her to have her recipes testing for salt content.

There are so many impacts to this regulation attacking salt, when the simpliest solution would be to provide tax credits to food companies who provide a line of low-sodium foods. The market will decide if they want to purchase it and the food industry can adjust its ways accordingly.

Additionally, it is the personal responsibility of each human being to make good nutritional choices for their body and lifestyle. Just like the women in the early feminist movement who shouted "Keep Government Off My Body" during the abortion rights movement, I want the government both off my body and out of my pantry.

Finally, and as I mentioned above, I think we can all agree on the importance of personal responsibility AND that the more you know the better. I worry about forcing smaller businesses like family-owned restaurants and my friend the personal chef having to pay for their recipes to be analyzed for salt content because that would put them out of business. But once your business reaches a certain distribution point, it makes sense to let consumers know.

As for existing companies, that information has been there on the side of the box for decades. This is nanny-statism which can be traced back to the success of the tobacco lawsuits and is gaining boldness thanks to Obamacare. We are Americans and we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness whether that means healthy eating and jogging five miles a week or stuffing your face with hamburgers. It's your responsibilty to take care of yourself, not the State's.


  1. This post is ridiculous. The FDA is not proposing a BAN on salt. And by the way, the issue is with sodium, not salt. Salt has sodium in it. FDA's just considering setting standards for salt because Food, Inc. doesn't care if they kill you, as long as you keep buying their cheesy puffs. Want to go back to leaded gas and leaded paint? How about cadium puffs for breakfast? Get real and quit being so alarmist. If you just do the math, you eat more sodium per day (be honest and count every little mg) than is good for you. Even if you are careful. It's in EVERYTHING in massive quantities. Want to live longer? Eat food without labels (i.e. produce). And think for yourself. Avoid phrases like "nanny state" and "Obamacare." Come on, your writing style is original, bring your vocab up to speed, i.e., give yourself more credit.

  2. Sandy. Please reread my post with more care. And refrain from insults and strawman arguments please.

    Once you do reread what I have said, you will see my point is that any government interference with our personal life choices is UNACCEPTABLE.

    You will see that I, myself, practice a low salt/sodium diet but I refuse to restrict the choices of others.

    I completely reject this "nanny state" regulation attempt on behalf of Obamacare because I have lived abroad in "nanny states" and it is awful. Indeed, my husband had described himself in both articles and speeches as a "refuge from socialism" because of such regulations on behalf of socialized medicine.

    "Food, Inc." does not want to kill its customers, what claim to make! Killing its customers would put "Food, Inc." out of business.

    Indeed, the Baptist and Bootleggers syndrome is kicking in with the larger food companies who prefer regulations like these as it prevents smaller companies from being able to compete.

    And the idea that I was suggesting that we go back to clearly unsafe products like leaded gas and cadium puffs is insulting in the extreme. Please refrain from such strawman arguments.

    I can think for myself and see that this regulation attempt is sloppy as I point out that Kosher and Asian foods would be so disproportionately targeted as to "appear" racist.

    But that is not the worst part of it. As I say quite clearly, regulating salt takes away our right as individuals to both personal responsibility and our freedom of choice. Unacceptable.

    If successful, what else could they regulate/ban out of existance? If successful, what food choices would you have? You can choose a low salt diet but would you choose a fat-free or sugar-free diet with all its artificial substitutes? Or would we all be expected to cook with out salt, fat or sugar. My children's birthday cakes would be delicious.

    How much regulations is enough? Currently, the recommendation is an absurdly low teaspoon of salt a day? How could the government enforce that regulation without either eliminating all salt in processed foods and rationing salt for personal consumption? And if you are under Obamacare, would they test you for salt levels in your blood to make sure you are conforming to these regulations? Would you lose your Obamacare coverage if you didn't?

    These are legitimate questions to ask. These are honest concerns regarding the impact of such a sweeping regulation.

    Salt is a vital nutrient which our bodies depend on for survival. Yes, many people eat too much of it but that is their choice. The medical data is incomplete regarding the connection between salt intake and hypertension yet our entire nutritional lives would be upended by this spurious regulation.

    I am not against sensible regulations that logically protect consumers but I abhor and reject such regulations as these which make no sense, have no reliable scientific backing and needlessly restrict personal freedoms and economic competition.