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Monday, Sep. 1, 2014

Take this with a grain of salt

Friday, December 14, 2007

"Let me be your low-sodium dog / Or I won't be your man at all / Honey, let me be your low-sodium dog!"

I wouldn't be surprised if episodes of the classic "Andy Griffith Show" get re-edited to show the backwoods Darling Family singing that revised bluegrass ditty. That's because the American Medical Association is really pressuring the U.S. federal government to take immediate action to crack down on excess salt in food.

The campaign to demonize sodium chloride is not an overnight development. The Center for Science in the Public Interest sued the Food and Drug Administration for foot-dragging in both 1983 and 2005.

In its defense, the FDA has been preoccupied with the anemia situation. ("Say, my bonus has been looking pretty anemic lately. We'd better go lobby Congress.") Plus, the FDA was a little skeptical of the Center's dogged quest for evidence of "second hand salt."

Furthermore, the FDA has been bogged down with grammatical problems while deciding which drug side effects to tolerate. ("No, wait -- is it eenie before meenie except after minie?")

Although we all know jerks who automatically douse their food with salt before even sampling it (I guess it's cheaper than their other fetish of buying a new Diehard every time they go to turn the ignition key), the biggest problem is not with home cooking.

Many restaurants and packaged food processors routinely "bless" us with two or three times the safe amount of salt. I asked one fry cook why this situation exists. He explained, "Shoot, YOU try figurin' out them English tons and metric tons, smarty-pants!"

I hate hypertension, heart disease and stroke as much as the next guy. But I fear the "nanny state" philosophy may go too far. The message from the do-gooders, of course, is that "Bland is beautiful." Such a goal will have severe repercussions on family relationships. ("Aw, man! I'm sorry I ate your cardboard box, son. I know it's your castle, but for a minute there I thought I was still eating my potato chips.")

The AMA is messing with a substance that is deeply ingrained in our biology and our culture. Salt, of course, is one of the four major taste categories, the other four being sweet, sour, and "just like chicken."

In ancient times, salt was used as money. (To show how "the more things change, the more they stay the same," my own take-home pay is still used to rub salt in my wounds.) Bible students remember how Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back at the city of Sodom. Now you turn into a pillar of salt when you look back at the Dollar Menu.

The anti-salt campaign comes up against Southerners' affection for some of life's simple pleasures. It will take a lot of indoctrination to break the connection that Marshall Countians have with the delicacies prepared by Robert and Keith Bigham. The AMA will probably brainwash us by changing the ending of the movie "King Kong" to "It wasn't the airplanes. It was country ham that killed the beast."

You can sleep easier knowing that activists will be working around the clock to fix this health crisis. No, wait -- researchers recently discovered that shift work is a possible carcinogen, so I guess after the 5 o'clock whistle, it's just you and your blood pressure. ("Second-hand second shift! We need funding for a study of second-hand second shift!")߸"Let me be your low-sodium dog / Or I won't be your man at all / Honey, let me be your low-sodium dog!"

I wouldn't be surprised if episodes of the classic "Andy Griffith Show" get re-edited to show the backwoods Darling Family singing that revised bluegrass ditty. That's because the American Medical Association is really pressuring the U.S. federal government to take immediate action to crack down on excess salt in food.

The campaign to demonize sodium chloride is not an overnight development. The Center for Science in the Public Interest sued the Food and Drug Administration for foot-dragging in both 1983 and 2005.

In its defense, the FDA has been preoccupied with the anemia situation. ("Say, my bonus has been looking pretty anemic lately. We'd better go lobby Congress.") Plus, the FDA was a little skeptical of the Center's dogged quest for evidence of "second hand salt."

Furthermore, the FDA has been bogged down with grammatical problems while deciding which drug side effects to tolerate. ("No, wait -- is it eenie before meenie except after minie?")

Although we all know jerks who automatically douse their food with salt before even sampling it (I guess it's cheaper than their other fetish of buying a new Diehard every time they go to turn the ignition key), the biggest problem is not with home cooking.

Many restaurants and packaged food processors routinely "bless" us with two or three times the safe amount of salt. I asked one fry cook why this situation exists. He explained, "Shoot, YOU try figurin' out them English tons and metric tons, smarty-pants!"

I hate hypertension, heart disease and stroke as much as the next guy. But I fear the "nanny state" philosophy may go too far. The message from the do-gooders, of course, is that "Bland is beautiful." Such a goal will have severe repercussions on family relationships. ("Aw, man! I'm sorry I ate your cardboard box, son. I know it's your castle, but for a minute there I thought I was still eating my potato chips.")

The AMA is messing with a substance that is deeply ingrained in our biology and our culture. Salt, of course, is one of the four major taste categories, the other four being sweet, sour, and "just like chicken."

In ancient times, salt was used as money. (To show how "the more things change, the more they stay the same," my own take-home pay is still used to rub salt in my wounds.) Bible students remember how Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back at the city of Sodom. Now you turn into a pillar of salt when you look back at the Dollar Menu.

The anti-salt campaign comes up against Southerners' affection for some of life's simple pleasures. It will take a lot of indoctrination to break the connection that Marshall Countians have with the delicacies prepared by Robert and Keith Bigham. The AMA will probably brainwash us by changing the ending of the movie "King Kong" to "It wasn't the airplanes. It was country ham that killed the beast."

You can sleep easier knowing that activists will be working around the clock to fix this health crisis. No, wait -- researchers recently discovered that shift work is a possible carcinogen, so I guess after the 5 o'clock whistle, it's just you and your blood pressure. ("Second-hand second shift! We need funding for a study of second-hand second shift!")߸