Friday, November 30, 2007

"generally recognized as safe"

I'm frustrated and angry this morning. I'm sure I'm not going to be able to accurately articulate what my thoughts are, but I want to try.

Salt.

Salt is a dietary mineral essential for animal life, composed primarily of sodium chloride.
Sodium and chlorine, the two components of salt, are necessary for the survival of all living creatures, including humans. (Cribbed from Wikipedia).

Salt is good for you and makes your food taste great.

But salt can be bad for you if over consumed. And we have a problem with that in this country because of the high amounts of salt used in processed foods. You know processed foods; those aisles in the store of boxed meals, just add water dinners, canned soups, etc.

In the past day or so, there have been some reactionary & sensationalistic news stories (print & TV) shouting "Salt it BAD FOR YOU." Medical groups, or at least one medical group, are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to do something about the excess consumption of salt.

Here's the Washington Post story.

OK, here's the deal...here's where I'm frustrated and upset.

The United States is generally fat and unhealthy. This comes from a number of reasons, but my speculation, and argument today has everything to do with our culture moving further and further away from the kitchen and the dinner table. I grew up with this before we moved to the country and started gardening. As a kid in the city, Mom didn't like to cook, so it was frozen dinners, boxed meals, pizzas, chips, etc. Comfort foods, Convenience foods. Fatty & Salty foods. So, the more meals are prepared with processed ingredients, the higher our intact of salt will be. Don't get me wrong, I love a good bowl of mac & cheese, or even frozen pizza. But I don't do that every week.

If the FDA needs to get involved, what they should to do is step back and encourage families to prepare their own meals at home with fresh fruits, veggies, grains, meats, etc. where they can control the salt intact on their own.

Salt is funny. You add it to something and it tastes great. Add too much and it's, Oh...Over-salted. Your body and your taste buds will tell you when there is too much salt.

All the freshest ingredients in the world won't give you the perfect dish, until you add that pinch or two of salt.

Recently someone asked me if there was one secret to make home cooked food taste better. This person is newer to the process of cooking and wasn't having much luck. I thought about it for awhile and considered saying they need to relax and enjoy the time in the kitchen, or get fresh ingredients or read cookbooks. But I didn't. I said you need to not be afraid of salt when you're cooking. Get rid of the table salt and pick up a box of kosher salt or a nice container of sea salt. Then taste your food. Saute onions without salt; taste them. Not that great. Season with salt; that's what I'm talking about. Salt is needed to balance and enhance the flavors of your food, as well as all those medical reasons your body needs salt.

Today I beg the news outlets, medical associations and the FDA to leave salt alone.

Don't bully salt.

Take a step back and instead of saying no to salt, say yes to home cooking with fresh ingredients--where you can can control the salt.

3 comments:

Jack said...

And Pepper! Don't forget a good pepper mill and fresh ground pepper! And Hot Sauce, everything taste better with a dash of hot sauce. And butter, what could be more natural than real butter?
In all seriousness, sea salt is better than table salt, though table salt has iodine which our bodies do need a small amount of to prevent goiters. Fresh ground pepper is really better tasting and real butter is not really that bad for you if used sparingly and taste better than margarine (what is that stuff anyway?).
The key to all of this is moderation. You can eat just about anything in moderation and never feel deprived.

Bek said...

And, um, get some exercise too. :)

Ramona - The Houndstooth Gourmet said...

I loved this rant. I'm with you.Salt is not the enemy, it is what makes food taste better. And pepper and jack said, don't forget the pepper. Black, red, white. They all add dimension to taste. My sense is that most folks who push away the salt shaker are also the ones eating processed food. Lastly,talbe salt is for boiling pasta. Kosher and sea salts are for everything else.
Rant over ;-)