|We can’t get a complementary glass of water in some restaurants without asking for it. We are no longer asked whether we want to sit in the smoking or non-smoking section because the entire restaurant is a non-smoking section.
Now, for our own good, some restaurants are taking the salt shakers off the tables – permanently.
The Boston Market chain has announced that salt shakers will be available in its 476 locations nationwide only at condiment stations. That move is intended to encourage patrons to taste their food before they go to the condiment stations. Salt will not be provided in packets they can just take back to the tables.
In addition, Boston Market will reduce the sodium content of some of its most popular dishes. The rotisserie chicken for which the chain is best known, as well as mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, will undergo a 20 percent cut in sodium. Other dishes will be made 15 percent lower in sodium by 2014.
This is the first time I’ve heard of a national restaurant chain shelving the salt shakers (Try saying that one out loud.). However, other chains like Carl Jr., El Torito and Taco Bell have taken steps to lower the sodium content in its menu items.
This is another one of those issues that drives libertarians crazy. They don’t want others making decisions for them, even if some people insist on making poor decisions.
But this is not a situation in which the so-called “nanny state” forced a business into a decision against its corporate will. Boston Market did not make this decision under the threat of any government mandate. It was an independent decision taken by an independently run business apparently responding to the desires of the free market that conservatives say they hold so dear.
On the other hand, it might very well be a preemptive strike against anticipated sodium-reduction legislation, either at the state or federal level. Maybe Boston Market and these other franchises just want to get out in front of the issue.
Frere Jean, a Cajun seasoning brand out of (where else?) LaPlace, La., proudly advertises that there is no salt in its seasoning products – none whatsoever. The company seems to believe that its special blends of herbs and spices should be sufficient to tantalize your tastebuds. Of course, how much salt you add is up to you.
If you’d rather take the initiative than let others do your thinking for you, here’s some information you’re free to either use or ignore.
The Mayo Clinic says the maximum amount of sodium each of us should consume daily is 2,300 milligrams. The federal government says it should be no more than 1,500 milligrams if you are African-American; have high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease or diabetes; or are over the age of 50.
The CDC says the average American consumes 3,300 milligrams per day before we even reach for the salt shaker.
Breads and rolls; cold cuts and cured meats; pizza; poultry; soups; sandwiches; cheese; pasta mixed dishes; meat mixed dishes; and savory snacks are the top 10 sources of foods for Americans aged 2 and up, according to the CDC.
Those Gerber strained carrots are starting to sound more and more appealing. Where can I find a 2-year-old?