General Tso's Crime Against Humanity

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…was creating a tasty chicken-based meal that is typically prepared with mondo amounts of salt. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest and other public health scolds, that's fatal for the U.S. population at large.

This AP story reports on a push to cut back the amount of salt in the average American's diet. As we await the convening of a dietitian's version of the Nuremberg trials, read this snippet:

Time-crunched families depend on the convenience of processed foods, so the American Public Health Association, backed by dozens of other health and medical groups, issued a challenge to the industry: Cut in half the sodium in those foods over the next 10 years.

"Nobody ever said, 'Do you want that salt in your food?' Somebody put it there for you," says Havas, who wrote APHA's policy.

"There's only so much people can worry about when it comes to food," said nutritionist Bonnie Liebman of the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest. "But the fact is high blood pressure rates are going up, the evidence that salt raises blood pressure has only gotten stronger, and people need to hear that message."

To the AP's credit, they elsewhere report that obesity and sedentary lifestyles are the real health issue, not sodium intake per se.

Reason's July cover story, "The Anti-Pleasure Principle: The 'Food Police' and the pseudoscience of self-denial," by Jacob Sullum is an in-depth look at how CSPI routinely stretches the truth in making its headline-grabbing claims about our food supply.

NEXT: Judge Judging

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  1. As a recent heart stint patient, with a possible need for reduced salt intake, I discussed the quanity of salt I needed to consume with my Doctor….
    Funny, his recommendation is 167% the Goverment recommendation that appears on nutritional labels. If you don’t have chronic heart failure, there is NO reason to follow the Goverment ‘guidelines’.

  2. Didn’t David Freedman show that the link (http://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~census/573.pdf ) between salt and high blood pressure was rather weak?

  3. Brad S- yes, you would die the healthiest man on the planet- of starvation

  4. Most of the folks at the “Center for Science and the Public Interest” are vegitarians who would not want you to eat chicken if it was salt and fat free. These people have managed to find something wrong with every possible food choice oter than nuts and granola. I have absolutely no interst in their position on any food issue. In fact, it is very easy to pick their stance on anything, they are so consistently negative on anything anyone likes.

  5. Help! I’m eating Tater Tots by the bucketload and I can’t stop! It’s all an evil plot to make me fat and lazy! The greedy capitalist Tot manufacturers ought to pay me for my pain and suffering, and for my low self-esteem. French fries are worse than heroin–and cheaper! Thank goodness my waistline isn’t my own fault

    Why worry about personal responsibility when there’s someone else to blame for your woes?

  6. You mean when the nutrition label on the food says 50% DV of sodium, that means there’s a lot of salt in it??

    The food police are running amok at farmers markets, too.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0307290287jul29,1,7181049.story?coll=chi-news-hed

  7. If you use enough MSG, you don’t need salt.

  8. “Joe, most prepared meals have tons of salt because that’s what sells better. Because that’s what most people want. ”

    I cannot believe that. Whenever I eat a TV dinner, or a can of soup, it’s so salty I have to wonder where all that salt is coming from.

    Do you really think people wrote millions of letters to the makers saying “More salt!!!”

    If they want more salt, are they too lazy or stupid to put it on themselves?

  9. There is also a related effect, and that is water consumption. If people drink more water, the need to watch salt intake is reduced. I would also say that as a person ages, high salt intake can also lead to kidney stones, which are not deadly, but only seem that way (painful).

  10. Mike,
    I also find most prepared meals too salty for me. That’s why I like to make my own food. But I’ve noticed that I’m in a small minority in that regard. Most people will taste something that I think is too salty, and add salt. And no, the consumers voted with their pocketbook, not by writing letters. And, apparently, people are too lazy or stupid to cook their own rice.

  11. To echo (and reinforce) what a couple people above said, the whole concern about salt and blood pressure is ludicrously overblown. IF you have a bad heart or bad kidneys or pre-existing high blood pressure, then reducing sodium intake is a good idea. If not, you can eat all the salt you want, all day long, and it does no harm AT ALL. Folks with those health problems are already told by their doctors to watch sodium intake, so why should anyone else care? This whole topic is just based on medical ignorance (by both the public and these “watchdogs”).

    Yes, I’m an MD, fwiw. This is what they taught us in med school (mid-90s, not long ago or anything).

  12. Dear nephew,
    Excellent work getting your work on the dangers of salt published. You’re almost as prolific as your brother and his global warming work.

    Yours infernally,
    Uncle Screwtape

  13. Anybody ever thought of class-action-suing public interest groups on behalf of post-25-year-olds who are unable to make any significant decisions about their own lives thanks to being infantilized.

    Unable to commit? Can’t sign for a mortgage? Made erroneous career choice when seeking safety? Call now, attorney Brown will handle your case…

  14. US life expentancy 1900-2000 [for all races and genders]

    1900 – 47.3; 1910 – 50.0; 1920 – 54.1; 1930 – 59.7; 1940 – 62.9; 1950 – 68.2; 1960 – 69.7; 1970 – 70.8; 1980 – 73.7; 1990 – 75.4; 2000 – 76.9

    It seems the more time we spend eating the processed stuff, the longer we are living.

  15. Good thinking, Don. Should I apply that reasoning to the income tax?

  16. Good thinking, Don. Should I apply that reasoning to the income tax?

  17. Mmmm. Tater tots.

  18. My wife tells me that when she was a kid, she used to pull a stick of butter out of the fridge and roll it in salt so it looked like Good Humor Almond Bar and then eat it. Her diet is a little more balanced these days. She rolls it in salt and pepper now.

  19. “Look at your grocery store shelf – where’s the consumer choice?”

    “In the next aisle, where the non-prepared foods are kept.”

    HA! hohohohoooooly cow! Ten to one when axed he says he’s Pro Choice! If the Left get’s any lamer we’re going to have to start shooting them. It’s the humanitarian thing to do don’t you know.

  20. Does that mean I can look forward to adding even more salt to my pre-processed food than I already do? Looks like I better stock up my spice cabinet, they’re not going to stop until all food tastes as bland as possible.

  21. Have you ever tried to find a prepared rice or noodle dish that doesn’t have insane amounts of sodium in it? Look at your grocery store shelf – where’s the consumer choice?

  22. If I was to believe every bit of nutritional advice that I ever received from some “public interest” group, I would just never eat anything. Ever. And I would be the most healthy person in the world!

  23. Have you ever tried to find a Ford or Chevy that didn’t have insane amounts of engine in it? Look at your dealers’ lots – where’s the consumer choice?

    Joe, most prepared meals have tons of salt because that’s what sells better. Because that’s what most people want. The consumers spoke and the manufacturers listened. You may want to try a different grocery store, as mine offers diet and healthy meals, ethnic foods, and large bags of uncooked rice and noodles- for those of us that like to solve our own problems.

  24. tm & joe – another reason why “prepared” dishes have tons of salt is that salt acts as a preservative.

  25. Soylent Green. It’s closer then you think…

  26. Good point, Brad. But how can I turn that into a snide comment that lamely attempts to support my political outlook?

  27. This is one thing they really can’t blame on the big, bad companies, because no matter how much salt they put in food, people will decide “this isn’t enough!” and dump a bunch more on it.

  28. “Look at your grocery store shelf – where’s the consumer choice?”

    In the next aisle, where the non-prepared foods are kept.

  29. No one is forcing you to buy prepared rice or noodles (Ramen, anyone?–it would like like cardboard w/o the salt and fat–this way it’s salty, greasy cardboard). Worried about your blood pressure–cook for yourself. Then, try that method for thinking.
    Many “prepared” dishes, like Lean Cuisine, etc., use salt to make up for the lack of fat, thus flavor. I don’t think people are all that time-pressed to cook, but cooking got de-valued by the women’s movement folks, and then reinvented as a yuppie pastime. So, ordinary people don’t cook because they don’t know how, are a tiny bit lazy, and are intimidated. Mom used Cool Whip, so it must be okay, right?

  30. I like the way their table showing internet hits for Fucker and other terms also includes the results for “First Amendment” and “sticks and stones may break my bones.”

  31. Sorry – that last post belongs in the F Bomb thread.

  32. Soylent Green is PEOPLE!!!!

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist that.

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