Interesting Op-Ed in today’s New York Times contains a great deal of hand-wringing about high blood pressure and high sodium loads in foods packaged and prepared in today’s United States. Side by side with the mountain of sugar they are feeding us is another cheap chemical that makes foods that are otherwise tasteless palatable once again.
The prescription offered by the piece is to consume less salt, but then they gnash their teeth in frustration…
Doctors warn people with high blood pressure to go on a low-salt diet, but that’s virtually impossible in today’s world, because nearly 80 percent of the sodium that Americans eat comes in packaged and restaurant food (whether it’s a bagel, a sandwich or a steak dinner). You can’t take it out. And nearly everyone, not just people with hypertension puzzling over food labels, should be taking in less sodium. The only way to prevent millions of Americans from developing high blood pressure is for companies and restaurants to stop loading up their food with sodium.
Are we surprised that packaged and restaurant food contains the bulk of the sodium? Of course, if you think about it, there is a perfectly good reason for this. As a flavor-enhancer, salt allows for food to be edible and interesting without having to contain all of the spices that it would normally require. If you want to eat cheap food, it is going to contain lots of salt and lots of sugar, just to make it taste like more than the box that surrounds it.
This line cracks me up…”The only way to prevent millions of Americans from developing high blood pressure is for companies and restaurants to stop loading up their food with sodium.” No mention of cooking your own…out of the question. No mention of the consumer end of the market controlling the market with it’s purchasing power.
If we could convince more and more people to follow Michael Pollan’s advice and not eat any food from a container that has a health claim on it’s label, then this sodium poisoning that we are experiencing would be cut immediately.
A proposal as important to human life as this needs the stature and resources of the federal government to bring the rest of the food industry along. The F.D.A. has been developing a new plan for a voluntary, coordinated, national initiative. Unfortunately, even though it is voluntary, the food industry is fighting it, and the plan is stalled.
Unfortunately for Americans, there is a substantial block of Senators and Representatives that can keep anything, no matter how important, from becoming not only a law, but even a recommendation of the Federal Government. If it will cost anyone any money in any way, then it will never become the official policy of the US Government. We are on our own here, and we need to start acting like it. Don’t buy food in boxes. Don’t buy food that has a health claim on the label. Quit counting on your government to tell you its not bad for you. Their loyalties are badly divided.
Cook your own vegetables fresh, it takes just a moment of your time, actually somewhat less than it takes to microwave a frozen meal. Even if you don’t fear for your health it doesn’t hurt anything to appreciate that you have created something for yourself, that you are taking a larger portion of responsibility for your life.