Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Those Demonic Salt-Lovers

As you may know, the FDA is preparing regulations to limit the amount of salt in processed foods. Today’s Washington Post includes this letter to the editor from a woman who recently traveled to Germany. She offers both a fascinating story and an unorthodox approach to curbing American’s salt intake:

Much German cuisine is wonderful: meats, breads, soups, vegetables, desserts. But the saltiness is stunning. Germans routinely salt buttered bread. They put salt in bottled water and on raw vegetables. Their "adult" licorice brings tears to the eyes and a painful thirst to the throat.

An interesting explanation is given at the Museum of Medieval Crime in Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Aversion to salt was associated with the devil. Women who did not cook with salt were suspected of being witches, and a negative reaction to salt could be damning to a person on trial. Holy water was salted. So the overuse of salt has been inculcated in Germany in an essentially nonculinary way.

Maybe the Food and Drug Administration should try a converse approach here. What about an ad campaign connecting overuse of salt to terrorists, drug dealers and Wall Street rip-off artists?