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A housewife (my housewife) on FDA and salt…

May 13, 2010

Stock up on your favorite junk food now, folks, because it looks like the federal government is going to be messing with our food supply a whole lot more if regulators at the FDA have their way. Plans are underway to mandate restrictions on salt. The government – that fine institution that exists ostensibly to protect our rights and property in this land of the free – is planning soon to dictate how much salt will be legally permissible in prepared foods at grocery stores and restaurants.

Our big brothers are alarmed at how much salt we Americans are consuming ‘on average’ with the alleged consequences of high blood pressure leading to coronary artery disease. It is unfortunate but this notion that most citizens are too stupid or too ignorant to be allowed to make their own decisions about what they should put in their mouths or shopping carts is deep-seated.

My husband worked on Capitol Hill for five years until the atmospheres of blatant self-serving and patronizing elitism finally got too much for him. At one point, he’d have taken almost any kind of work just to get outside the “Beltway” and back among regular people.

As for folks being uninformed about their food choices, I say rubbish! Our middle daughter is a physician specializing in family medicine in southern Indiana. I know for a fact that she has counseled patients with risk factors for heart problems to limit their salt intake. Her patients are informed about the proper diet for optimal health and she provides information for them on websites. Other physicians and healthcare professionals do the same. The information is out there.

To my daughter’s chagrin, more than a few of her patients ignore her advice and her warnings, and many often suffer the consequences in the form of high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. But she strongly believes, as do I, that the people who come to her with their health concerns have every right to make their own choices about what they will or will not put in their stomachs. If we cannot control our own bodies, what do we have the right to control?

Once again, it’s the federal government seeking to protect us from ourselves, as if the average American is unable to take responsibility for what he or she does.

Don’t be fooled. Once the FDA starts down the slippery slope of regulating ordinary foodstuffs based on their perceptions of health – as has already have done in several cities with trans fats – there is no longer a logical stopping point for intervention. Limiting intake of sugar could be next. Actually, in my personal opinion, too much sugar may be as dangerous to our health as too much salt. Research last fall at the University of California at Davis found that our bodies tend to naturally regulate salt intake, whereas consuming too much sugar causes dental cavities, insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes and, yes, coronary artery disease. Will the FDA decide to outlaw Twinkies?

My point is, it is no one else’s responsibility to prevent you from eating doughnuts or drinking beer or putting away two bags of potato chips in front of your favorite TV program after working hard all day at your job. Likely you know what the best choices would be but the fact remains that you have the choice. The federal regulators want to take those choices away. They believe that we are a bunch of numbskulls blindly bent on destroying ourselves. We know we shouldn’t pig out too often on certain foods the same way we know we ought to exercise and we shouldn’t smoke cigarettes. But we don’t need anyone strong-arming us to make healthy choices. We retain those basic rights.

My two favorite junk foods are buttered popcorn with a liberal sprinkling of salt and Blizzards (cookie dough) from Dairy Queen. There is no way I’m going to stand by quietly and let some regulator tell me I can’t savor those pleasures once in awhile. I own my body.

By Janny Wilcke, reprinted from the Henry County Local, Eminence, Kentucky

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