The biggest loser in Michael Moss's New York Times expose of the food industry's fight against salt restrictions isn't the food industry. It isn't government, either. In my view, the real loser is television chef Alton Brown:
With salt under attack for its ill effects on the nation’s health, the food giant Cargill kicked off a campaign last November to spread its own message.
“Salt is a pretty amazing compound,” Alton Brown, a Food Network star, gushes in a Cargill video called Salt 101. “So make sure you have plenty of salt in your kitchen at all times.”
The campaign by Cargill, which both produces and uses salt, promotes salt as “life enhancing” and suggests sprinkling it on foods as varied as chocolate cookies, fresh fruit, ice cream and even coffee. “You might be surprised,” Mr. Brown says, “by what foods are enhanced by its briny kiss.”
As they say on SNL, "Really, Alton? REALLY?!"
The Salt 101 website (which appears as a set of full-screen videos of Brown gushing over the history, utility, and value of salt) is a high-end sales pitch for Diamond table salt. And as we all know, there's "nothing wrong" with table salt. However, and despite industry efforts to the contrary, the current controversy over salt isn't about table salt. The debate is over the various forms of and high amounts of salt in processed food, without which Big Food's brilliant creations tend toward flavors that food scientists refer to as "warmed over," "cardboard," or -- wait for it -- "damp dog hair."