I have to admit, my reaction to the front-page NYT article about America’s dangerous salt consumption actually made me hungry for Cheez-Its:
The power that salt holds over processed foods can be seen in an American snack icon, the Cheez-It.
At the company’s laboratories in Battle Creek, Mich., a Kellogg vice president and food scientist, John Kepplinger, ticked off the ways salt makes its little square cracker work.
Salt sprinkled on top gives the tongue a quick buzz. More salt in the cheese adds crunch. Still more in the dough blocks the tang that develops during fermentation. In all, a generous cup of Cheez-Its delivers one-third of the daily amount of sodium recommended for most Americans.
It did, however, cure me (at least for a while) of my desire for Keebler Light Buttery Crackers, “which have no actual butter.”
We eat a lot of salt at my house. This is in part because C can’t function without a hefty dose of it on top of, well, everything, and partly because I have realized — much like apparently every food processor in America — that my often mediocre cooking can be improved to “not bad” by less than a penny’s worth of salt.
Making deep cuts in salt can require more expensive ingredients that can hurt sales. Companies that make low-salt pasta sauces improve the taste with vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh herbs that cost more than dried spices and lower grade tomatoes.
That makes me want to buy more low-sodium foods, I must admit. Though C’s Salt Bagel yesterday (which had a very salty vegetarian sausage patty on it that has, I’ve just found out, about half the sodium of a normal patty) is definitely giving me a hard sell in the other direction.