Dr. Rich Fogoros has been blogging here and here about the looming restrictions on sodium by the federal government (urged on by public health experts) that will spell the doom for those of us who like to sprinkle that extra bit of salt on our baked potato. When he came out with the posts about a year ago I considered this to be more likely bombast and Chicken Little-ing by the usually astute DrRich. To maintain the bird metaphor, I would like to eat some crow. (Salt-free of course) Salt restrictions have already reached middle-town America.
It seems that the USDA has released new guidelines for school lunches that dictate a gradual decrease in the amount of allowable sodium until there is only half the amount of sodium slated to be in school lunches by the year 2023, compared to current guidelines. This little kernel of info is found buried on page 10 of the guidelines. Don’t worry though, the guidelines do state that “Extending the timeline…gives the food industry more time to reformulate products, and gives school children more time to grow accustomed to foods with less salty flavor.”
How magnanimous! The USDA is allowing our kids more time to get used to the bland food that will pass as edible fare…to paraphrase a line from Meridith Willson's "Music Man", the food will be "plainer than a Quaker on his day off"!
Why, just last week my wife was discussing the vagaries of school lunches with some colleagues when someone in the group brought up a vignette that was too funny and perhaps too sad to ignore. It would appear that the meals served in the high school cafeteria already are meeting some of the standards for sodium restriction anticipated in the future. Will our kids “grow accustomed to foods with less salty flavor”? Unlikely. Some of the kids who eat at the cafeteria have already figured out how to have their salt and eat it too. They have taken to going to the friendly neighborhood McDonald’s and carting out the tiny salt packets to sprinkle on their government provided sodium-free lunches. I’m almost afraid to post this; who knows if the kids will be frisked for contraband salt in the future if this scheme takes hold.
The issue here is wholesale population restrictions on sodium consumption without knowing the effects this may have on the health of said population. Not to mention the reach of the federal government into our lives and those of our children. I understand the reasons for salt restrictions for those with pre-existing hypertension, but I’m not sure the same principle applies to all of us, across the board.
Besides, as the sneaky little high school lunch eaters have shown, if you want my salt shaker, you’re gonna have to pry it out of my cold, dead, salty hands…