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The Salt of the Earth has a Bad Rep

     “You are the salt of the earth.” Not me! No way!  Not any more! Salt’s got a bad rep these days and I don’t want any part of it. The bad rep, that is.

     Due to some recent life changes in our family, salt, if not outright banished from the household, has been severely reduced in influence over our meals. No more shakin’ and bakin’; no more shakin’ and eatin’. Those days are a fond memory.

     So – if you happen to trip over me in the aisle under the fluorescent lights of your friendly neighborhood supermarket one bright and sunny day, well, I’m just checking the salt stats on the label of that jar of mayonnaise.

     The stats for salt come disguised under the pleasantly chemical-sounding name of sodium.  Sodium I can live without, and so could you, I’m sure. Salt – that’s another matter. Salt’s kind’a tasty, on those fries. Love it on ripe red sliced tomatoes or pale green cucumbers rimmed in jade green.

     But where it hides out in great abundance is in all those prepared foods we love to eat – the Lean Cuisines, the baked beans, the breads, all those baked goodies. No more quick dinners at our house. Nope. Once again I find myself scouring the aisles of the supermarket, reading the fine print on the jars and cans and boxes and cellophane wrappings. I’m not looking for calorie counts or carb counts or even cholesterol counts. I’m after the salt – um, sodium.

     Last week I got a craving for this fruit salad I love to make ’cause it’s so easy and it tastes so good. Does it have salt? Doesn’t taste like it, but you never know ’til you check the labels.  I started with the first ingredient: the marshmallows.

     Great start. Twenty milligrams per serving. The max for the day is two thousand milligrams, according to the health experts, so we’re doing okay with the marshmallows. I moved on to the fruit – it’s canned, so I held my breath, as canned foods seem to have an automatic dose of six hundred milligrams of salt no matter what’s inside. Almost as if the salt comes out of the metal sides of the can and attacks the contents.

     Well, the pineapples – nice fat chunky ones, in that delicious heavy syrup they come in – only ten milligrams. Wow! I’m doin’ alright here. The peaches and mandarin oranges were ten milligrams apiece. I looked all over the thick yellow banana wrapper for a list of chemical ingredients, but couldn’t find one anywhere so I just figured it probably had the standard ten milligrams like the other fruits.

     That adds up to a total of sixty milligrams of sodium – far below the recommended “less than two hundred milligrams” per serving. I had one last ingredient: sour cream. Things being the way they are, I figured that would be the ingredient that would put us over the top. I held my breath as I reached for the carton in the dairy case. With this new regime, the food at our house hasn’t been all that delicious lately.

     Soon as I read the label I jumped three feet in the air, right there between the sour cream and the margarine. Twenty-five milligrams! I almost bumped into a guy reaching for cottage cheese. Fruit salad here I come!

     Life is beginning to look livable once more. And as for those high-sodium foods like baked beans – at almost six hundred milligrams – we’ve got that covered. I found a thimble in my old sewing kit and we plan to use it for all the foods we love that have way too much sodium.

     I checked it out. One thimbleful equals one-eighteenth of one-fourth of a cup of beans, which has five hundred and fifty milligrams of sodium. So one and a half thimblefuls equals…

     You don’t think I’m carrying this too far, do you?

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