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March 11, 2010

NY's Nanny State Nazis: No Salt For You!

Let's start with the bottom line...NY State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (he of the no holding a cellphone while driving ban) is a putz.

Now Mr. Genius wants to ban the inclusion of salt in all food prepared by restaurants.

Ortiz admits that prior to introducing the bill he did not research salt’s role in food chemistry, its effect on flavor or his bill’s ramifications for the restaurant industry. He tells me he was prompted to introduce the bill because his father used salt excessively for many years, developed high blood pressure and had a heart attack.

“I think salt should be banned in restaurants. I ask if a dish has salt in it, and if I does, I get something else that doesn’t have salt,” Ortiz tells me, before going on to say that he has eaten, and expects he will continue to eat, among other things, ham, cheese and bread in restaurants, all of which contain salt.

...Regardless of the intent, and accepting its sponsor’s claim that it is part of his campaign to improve the public’s health, the bill exhibits profound ignorance not only of matters of taste — literally — but also of the chemistry of cooking.

“It’s a preposterous notion,” says baker extraordinaire Michael London, whose Mrs. London’s Bakery has been a Saratoga Springs institution for more than three decades. “Not using salt would make breads insipid and anemic,” London says. Besides lacking flavor, saltless bread would also have different texture, density and other characteristics as a result of its altered chemistry, London tells me.

In food scientist Shirley O. Corriher’s “CookWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking,” she writes that even the minimal salt used in baking — as little as one-third of a teaspoon per cup of flour — plays four crucial roles in the development of dough: It enhances flavor, controls bacteria, slows yeast activity and strengthens dough by tightening gluten.

“The small amounts we are dealing with … are not enough to add significantly to dietary salt intake,” Corriher writes.

And on and on and on. In short, it's simply impossible to cook without salt. This jackass doesn't know anything about the subject but thinks he knows everything he needs to because he's...an elected official and he cares.

You can say this is crazy and it will never pass (and you'll probably be right) but look at all the other insanity these people do pass (smoking bans, tans-fat bans, etc). Sure the exceptionally crazy one may get thrown out, or not, but it makes the next limitation on freedom and choice look moderately sane by comparison and a bit easier to pass.

It's time we kick these nosy bastards out of office and fire at least half of their bureaucratic enforcers.

Life is a dangerous thing and it will end in death. No amount of government intrusion into our lives is going to change that, we should stop pretending otherwise.

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posted by DrewM. at 11:10 AM

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