Thursday, 25 February 2010

The Saltfinders are coming.

The food post I've been working on has become huge. I'll have to deal with food a bit at a time.

Today it's salt, because that's in the news again. There is a huge anti-salt movement building for no good reason other than to demonise practically everyone all at once. Salt will soon have health warnings.


Salt is an essential component of your diet. Without it, your nervous system will collapse and all sorts of other horrible things will happen to your body and then you die. In pain.

Too much salt is bad for you. Too little salt is bad for you. The same is true for cholesterol and fats and carbohydrates and proteins. Even water.

That sentence should be the sum total of any government's advice on diet to any sensible population. It is then up to the individual to decide what constitutes 'too much' or 'too little' for their personal circumstances. The reason it should be left to individuals is simple. We are all different. The ideal salt content for me is not the same as the ideal salt content for you. You might be okay with much higher levels of cholesterol than I can tolerate. You might throw up on levels of whisky that will make me mildly tipsy. It's a matter of difference, not of 'wrongness'.

Some people will get fat on a set intake of carbohydrate while others will stay slim on the same intake. It's not just a matter of exercise but also of metabolism. Which can differ even between family members.

That's why diet plans rarely work. They are based on set, measured amounts of intake but people will metabolise them differently.

When I was a much smaller ugly little freak, there were many sweet shops. There was one in the town here until recently, and the school kids would mob it every lunchtime. They were banned from going there by the school. The shop is now a French food outlet which I have yet to try out. The Righteous will insist there is no connection between banning a shop's primary clientele from visiting and the subsequent closure of that shop. Just as there is no connection between effectively banning all smokers from pubs and the closure of pubs. "If there really was a demand, they'd still be open", isn't that the saying? There was a demand, Righteous. You banned those customers from the premises. Do try to engage at least one brain cell, once in a while.

The sweet shops of my youth had things like sugar mice. This was the size and shape of a mouse and made entirely from a solid lump of sugar with a bit of string for a tail. I didn't get fat. My teeth didn't all fall out. True, I had some experience of the dentist's drill but that wasn't the fault of the sugar mice. It was my fault. Those sugar mice didn't follow me home and sneak into my mouth while I slept. I wanted them and I ate them, entirely voluntarily. And I'd do it again.

I haven't seen them for a very long time. They've probably been rounded up by the Pied Piper of Banelin by now. The same Pied Piper who is coming back for your children.

I eat more salt than is recommended and quite possibly more than is good for me. I like salt. It is essential on salads because they don't taste of much otherwise. The only way I'll eat celery is to have a bowl of salt beside it for dunking purposes. Salt is wonderful. I can eat it raw. In fact I might take to carrying a salt cellar around with me so I can visit health restaurants and add it to food. Will I be thrown out of there? Hell, yes. Second hand saltiness is deadly, you know.

The sweets and their evil second hand sweetness are to be taken from view by the cretins in the Scottish government. Yes, Oily Al, I mean your lot. What the hell are you playing at? When the SNP first gained power we heard nothing from you for at least a year. That was A Good Thing. It meant you were all off doing serious government things and leaving us all alone. And while I'm pointing at you, Oily Al, you said you were going to abolish council tax. You froze it - and thanks for that, it's appreciated - but you said you wanted to get rid of it. Oh and if you have occasion to visit Aberdeen City Council, do try to point out to them that one small rented laboratory is not a viable source of tax plunder. No matter how many letters they send they won't be getting any.

But I digress. As Dick Puddlecote noted, shops will soon consist of one huge counter with all the stock under it. They will look exactly like those State shops I remember seeing in Yugoslavia, about 25 years ago. Somewhere I have a photo of that historic bridge at Dubrovnik before the Philistines smashed it. The shops were bare affairs, everything in drab packaging and staffed by people who wore the prototype sour faces for modern British supermarket staff.

Cigarettes in plain grey packs. Soon, booze in plain grey bottles with a skull and crossbones on them. Grey sweets in grey bags covered with pictures of dental decay and Mr. Blobby.

Do the nosedrips in power actually believe that we eat everything we see? Every time I visit Tesco I see rows and rows of white wine but never buy any. I see asparagus and courgettes and never buy any. I see ready-chopped meat at higher cost than the same amount unchopped and I don't buy it because a) I'm not too lazy to cut up some meat and b) meat can only be contaminated on the surface. Increase the surface area, then store it, and the contamination risk is vastly increased. That's why burgers should never be eaten rare. Mince is a contamination risk in a class of its own.

I also see rows of chocolate and sweets. A whole aisle of them. Once in a while I might buy a bar, but not often. I'm not a big fan of chocolate. It's a once-in-a-while mood. You see, Oily Al, I can resist the glittery sweetie wrappings and I can even resist when the prices are cut. I will, naturally, buy an Easter egg or two but not until they are at their last price reduction. They'll last me a while. All those things are easy to find and I don't buy them often. Make them hard to find and I might not buy them at all. That'll really help the economy, eh, Al?

One thing that's hard to find lately is salt. People are likely to look out of their windows at night and find me licking their driveways if this keeps up. It's not really likely. My salt supplies will outlast the winter and I'll increase them when the stuff gets back on the shelves.

I'll increase them a lot. In the comments to that Puddlecote post, the Big Yin speaks of the Saltfinders.

Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash) said 25% of 575 types of soup it analysed failed to meet Food Standards Agency targets on salt content.

Yes, you read that right. There is an entire group of people whose lives are dedicated to controlling how much salt we eat. These are a specialist group of Righteous, just like ASH (whose acronym they are trying to emulate) or the Shenkerites and they all want the same thing. They want control. Any control, of any aspect of life. As long as they are controlling something they are happy. Won't someone please give them a train set?

If you sell soup and you make it too salty, people won't buy it. If you make it not salty enough, people won't buy it. Just like Little Bear's porridge, you have to make it just right. Otherwise nobody will buy it.

What is 'just right'? It's what your customers will buy. Not what some unelected petty dictators demand. What the customer demands. Follow those Righteous demands and you'll be producing soup nobody wants to buy. Which is not a good business plan.

Guess what salt causes? That's right. Heart attacks. Just like everything else. It's amazing there's anyone left alive, what with all those heart attacks attributed to smoking, drinking, cholesterol, being overweight, and now salt. I am of the opinion that they are all the same heart attacks, recycled for each new scare.

You know what really causes high blood pressure and heart attacks? Reading things like this: -

The ideal daily intake of salt is no more than six grams and ministers want everyone to achieve this by 2010.

Ministers? Aren't they supposed to be sorting out the desperate state of the country's finances, the pathetic state of education and a thousand other disasters of their own making? No, they are too busy checking your salt intake. Well if they send an inspector round to me, I'll show him salt. I'll cut him off at the knees and stand him in a bucket of it. You have been warned, O Salty Righteous.

If you have high blood pressure, you might want to consider cutting back on your salt intake. It's up to you, or should be. If you suffer from water retention, less salt in the diet can help with that. What you absolutely must not do is eradicate salt from your diet because you will die in horrible pain if you do that.

If, like me, you have low blood pressure, a little extra salt can help. If these cretinous ministers restrict my salt intake to 'normal', I will fall asleep all over the place. The irony of definitions of 'normal' being laid down by the most abnormal people on the planet would be funny if it was happening somewhere else. It's happening here.

The nonsense is aided by the usual silly science:

All of the 3,126 people studied by the US team from Boston had had high-normal blood pressure, or "pre-hypertension".

Pre-hypertension. That's like saying any stiff joint is pre-arthritis or any sexual activity is pre-AIDS. It's a diagnosis of a non-illness that has been given a pseudo-medical term. Their blood pressure was a little on the high side of normal. 'Normal' in this case means 'average'. There is a considerable difference between those two terms. The average height of a human might be somewhere around five foot nine - I neither know nor care what the real figure is - so does that mean short people should be put on the rack while tall people have to have their spine shortened? They aren't 'normal'.

We don't do that. It would be silly. Those people are all normal, just not average. Yet we are all to conform to the average salt intake even though it will only really be 'normal' for the few people who fit exactly into the average. It will make the rest of us - every single one of us - ill, either from too much or too little salt. We are not clones. If only the medical profession would realise this simple fact. I don't expect Ministers to realise it because I am still astounded to find they can dress themselves. It's best not to push such limited intellects too far.

You medics, though. What are they teaching you in medical school? Here's a human body. It looks like this. Exactly like this. Here is its metabolism. It works like this. Exactly like this. Any deviation is wrong and must be dealt with. By force if necessary. Resistance is futile. They will all be assimilated.

Not me, matey.

I will never record my salt intake. If I am forced to, I will lie. I will never record my intake of anything. If I am forced to, I will lie. If something in my diet is making me ill I will sort it out. It's not difficult. If I gain weight I will eat less. if I lose weight I will eat more. My clothes fit this body shape and I am not replacing them all. Not even at Tesco prices.

Doctors already do their best to get your blood pressure and cholesterol tested. They get paid for every test, you know.

Soon they will be paid to check your salt levels too.

Let the Saltfinders come. I plan to stock up with enough to rival a Siberian mine because since it's a mineral, it can't go off. It just needs to be kept dry and it will last for ever.

Soon, it will be taxed as an Unhealthy Thing and children will come home from school and be horrified at the salt shaker on the table (next to the glass of wine and the ashtray). Their blood pressure will rocket and they'll die of heart attacks at sixteen.

History will no doubt be further amended to remove salted roast pork from the menu of those old sailing ships. Lumps of roast pork in a barrel of salt. Anyone know why? The sailors lived on that for months, and they could clamber up scary heights of masts in rough seas and fit the sails out onto the spars, without dropping from the rigging every five minutes clutching at their chests.

The Salt Manufacturers Association said the evidence did not prove that salt reduction would have any significant health benefits for the majority of people.

They are right. However, they should talk to the tobacco and booze industries so they know what they are up against. Any research they do will be ignored and discounted. They might as well not bother.

It conceded that individuals with high blood pressure might be advised to restrict their intake.

Shouldn't have done that. folks. One concession is all they need.

Second hand saltiness coming soon!

UPDATE - As pointed out in the comments, JuliaM had this one earlier.


Pavlov's Cat said...

Nice post sir.

CASH are a well known Fake Charity whose only reason for existence is for friends of the powers that be to trouser our cash and tell us how to live our lives.

JuliaM had a pop at them as well today.

and I'm going to add my 2 cents worth in the morning.

John Pickworth said...

"History will no doubt be further amended to remove salted roast pork from the menu of those old sailing ships."

British sailors back in the 18th Century were the best fed in the world. Mostly consisting of salted meat and dry biscuits, totaling more than 5,000 calories a day.

And we conquered/explored the world on that diet.

Today they want us restricted to 1,800 calories and don't like us driving as far as the chip shop!

Mark Wadsworth said...

LI, you are the scientist and all, whereas I am a mere pedant but doesn't the phrase "Too much ... is bad for you and can cause [heart attacks, cancer, whatever]" just make you sick to the stomach (in a metaphorical sort of way).

FFS, that's why it's called "too much", that's the whole definition of "too much", if it's harming you, it must be "too much" (continued page 94).

PS, my favourite food group (apart from essentials like tonacco, coffee, alocohol and aspirin) is crisps.

richard said...

i have a favour to ask - if you ever find the time to watch (or indeed have already seen) "sugar - the bitter truth" on youtube would you be able to offer an expert opinion? i don't follow the biochemistry which is very detailed, and am wondering if it's another jump onto the banned-wagon, or if it's kosher.

MU said...

"Salt is an essential component of your diet. Without it, your nervous system will collapse"

Horribly true, and a matter of life and death for one of my closest friends.

Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

"Too much salt is bad for you. Too little salt is bad for you. The same is true for cholesterol and fats and carbohydrates and proteins. Even water.

That sentence should be the sum total of any government's advice on diet to any sensible population."

How are they going to get all that lot out between the trapdoor opening and the rope tightening?

Snakey said...

I too have low blood pressure and according to the Righteous I eat too much salt. However, my body tells me what it needs and I listen to it. Without a high salt intake I would pass out so I have no intention of listening to their 'advice'.

Also as a migraine sufferer I have found that eating eggs, cheese, chocolate or fish helps to ease the pain (the pills are useless) and yet if the Righteous had their way I wouldn't be allowed to eat some of those foods. Until the Righteous walk a mile in my shoes they can keep their dietary opinions to themselves.

Anonymous said...

I've never added salt to cooked meals as I don't like the flavour, I much prefer plenty of pepper. After your previous posts on salt I thought I'd check the supermarkets down here in Edinburgh and there was a bewildering array on the shelves. I bought a load just in case as it could be useful for trading when the shit hits the fan.
On an unrelated note I think you've mentioned about smoking in pubs but imagine if you could be arrested for being drunk in a pub.

Mac the Knife said...

"You medics, though. What are they teaching you in medical school? Here's a human body. It looks like this. Exactly like this. Here is its metabolism. It works like this. Exactly like this. Any deviation is wrong and must be dealt with. By force if necessary. Resistance is futile. They will all be assimilated."

I think they changed the curriculum around about the same time as they totally lost the capacity to differentiate between 'life' and 'mere existence'.


Pogo said...

I'm just off down the pub for the ultimate "unhealthy eating experience"... Deep-fried pig fat rolled in salt, otherwise known (here in the midlands anyway) as "scratchings". And, a few pints... Bliss. :-)

Pavlov's Cat said...

Something that might make the UK Righteous heads explode and that includes ASH as well as CASH

Anonymous said...

The best use for salt is, after you have shot the food fascist in the belly six times (a la Sgt Markov), to take a tin of Saxa and slowly pour it into the wounds. You know, maybe salt is bad for you after all.

Leg-iron said...

Pogo - we have scratchings here in the frozen wastes of Scotland too. The only real danger is getting a rock hard bit and cracking a tooth. Bite with caution, and if you get a rock, suck the salt off before spitting it out.

Then you can offer it to a Righteous as a low-salt scratching.

Leg-iron said...

Pavlov's cat - oh, I like that idea.

Leg-iron said...

Anon, no, no no. It's more effective to make lots of little cuts in the skin rather than shoot them.

They last longer. You'll have much more fun.

Anonymous said...

Salt has been so tampered with over the years its tasteless, I get my daughter to bring me loads of salt from France. The difference is amazing, and yes I too am stocking up, I love the stuff and as I sweat quite a bit I NEED IT YOU INTERFERING BASTARDS!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sugar mice..

Unknown said...

I bet you would never have thought they would try and ban salt, would you LI? Maybe you would:

Chefs Call Proposed New York Salt Ban 'Absurd': "Some New York City chefs and restaurant owners are taking aim at a bill introduced in the New York Legislature that, if passed, would ban the use of salt in restaurant cooking.

Got this via our friends in the USA:

Here's the full story:

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