Pass the Salt?

11 Mar 2010, Posted by Jennifer Iannolo in food, news & buzz

First they came for the foie gras.

Now, the self-appointed police of all things have decided to attack…salt. Yes, salt. That mainstay of cooking, that critical ingredient to every baker on the planet, and flavor enhancer to every dish that comes out of a kitchen, professional or otherwise.

Brooklyn Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, potentially the most unintelligent man related to food (or government) in any form, proposes in bill A. 10129 that “No owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food for consumption by customers of such restaurant, including food prepared to be consumed on the premises of such restaurant or off of such premises.”

Mr. Ortiz is single-handedly trying to destroy the restaurant industry by “acting for the public good.” I won’t even get into what he’s trying to do to our palates.

What Mr. Ortiz fails to understand is that salt is an essential component of cooking and flavor enhancement. In baking, it is a chemical necessity. But such things are irrelevant to legislators of his ilk, who are trying to save us from ourselves. Alas, this is simply the latest in the government’s attempt to tell us what we can’t do, and to regulate our health by means of being an evil Nanny.

Chefs are rightfully up in arms, but it is we, the people, who need to take action. Many will shake their heads and wonder why the government is doing such a thing, but then they’ll go back to working 60-hour weeks and forget that our lives and liberties are eroding before our very eyes, as we anxiously await the next episode of Desperate Housewives.

We have become so lazy and complacent as a culture that the government now finds it appropriate to introduce such measures, so the blame rests solidly on our shoulders. We did this. And we are the only ones who can undo it. Lest you think I’m being hyperbolic, I encourage you to brush up on American history, and pay attention to the evolution of the Nanny State.

If you are outraged by the actions of Mr. Ortiz — and I hope you are, I encourage you to start writing, start calling, and let the New York State legislature know that this bill is not only a waste of taxpayer dollars, but an infringement on our rights of the most insidious nature.

Now, some of you might say “but too much salt is unhealthy!” I have news for you: Firstly, if a chef is using that much salt, he isn’t going to be in business for long, because his guests won’t eat his food. It won’t taste good. Secondly, too much of anything is unhealthy, and that’s where we come in: We are the ones consuming, so we must pay attention to what’s going in our mouths. Eat too much salt over a lifetime and it may have adverse effects — but we are the ones holding the fork.

If the idea of the government rationing your food makes you bristle, recognize that much worse measures are not far away. Unless we act now. A coalition called My Food, My Choice has gotten together to fight such inanities — I’m signing up right this minute.

New York State Assembly (look up your assemblyman):

Felix Ortiz
E-mail contact

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404 55th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11220

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LOB 627
Albany, NY 12248