In Defense of Salt and Personal Responsibility
Hipsters, the celebrity socialite, late-night pizza — there are so many phenomena for which we have New York City to thank. A trailblazer in all aspects of life’s little pleasures, the Big Apple churns out trends that second-rate cities like our fair Boston struggle to keep up with, finally catching on a year or two after the NYC bubble bursts. At this rate, we should see a flurry of food trucks (our current NYC/LA object of envy) in Boston by 2012. Score.
Slightly less exciting than food trucks is the latest culinary news item out of New York: a possible citywide ban on the use of salt in restaurants. Following hot on the heels of successful bans on trans fat in restaurants and calorie postings on menus, Bill A. 10129 was introduced to the New York Legislature on March 5 by Brooklyn Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, and hopes to assist the public in cutting their salt intake, thus improving their health through lower blood pressure and decreased chances of developing heart disease. After all, 75% of Americans’ daily salt intake comes not from the shaker, but rather from pre-seasoned prepared and processed foods. It’s only natural then, that the government should step in and pass a law that would fine restaurants $1,000 every time they were found to have used salt in preparing a dish. Right? Dead wrong.
Aside from the fact that salt provides a fundamental element of flavor to almost every dish a restaurant produces (and without some salt, said dishes would be lackluster and one-dimensional), there’s another issue to consider. Something so very basic, yet often overlooked when someone suggests that it is the chef/restaurant owner/FDA’s job to monitor the public’s health and make good dietary choices for us. It’s called personal responsibility. As a society of fairly reasonable individuals, do we really need a ban on trans fat to know that french fries are bad for us? Or a law that requires Burger King to tell us that a Whopper meal contains 1,220 calories and 57 grams of fat?
Similarly, it shouldn’t take a ban on salt in restaurants to tell us that we shouldn’t be covering our salads in creamy Italian and ordering trough-sized bowls of cream of mushroom soup. Going out to eat at a restaurant doesn’t mean you relinquish yourself of all personal responsibility — the chef isn’t your babysitter and you’re not a four-year-old waiting to be fed.
So man up, be healthy and order a salad already. Dressing on the side, of course.
Posted by Amelia