Salt- Keep it Far Far Away
The most popular seasoning used in food production is salt. Salt is added to enhance the flavour of various foods and dishes (Boon, Henney, & Taylor, 2010). Many people believe that the lack of salt in food makes the food taste bad (Boon, Henney, & Taylor, 2010). However, it could be that they have used salt in their diet regularly, and now they are used to it (Boon, Henney, & Taylor, 2010). The reason why salt is so popular is because it is cheap, and it masks metallic flavours (Boon, Henney, & Taylor, 2010). Despite giving menus great flavours, there are two reasons as to why we should decrease salt and use new spices in our menus.
Sodium is a mineral found in salt. High intake of sodium has been linked to high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke (Harvard School of Public Health, 2015). This means that our menus must have limited amount of sodium so we do not put our customers and/or patients at risk for any of those conditions. So the question is, how do we build our menu so that there is a little bit of sodium but the flavours remain the same?
There are different spices and seasonings that are used in various cuisines around the world. If the right mixture and amount are used, the lack of flavour from sodium is almost unrecognizable. Some of these seasonings include (American Heart Association, 2014):
Some seasonings used in my kitchen to enhance flavour are cardamom, lime juice, sumac, saffron and Rose water. The goal is to remove as much sodium as we can from our menu. As I was researching this topic, other ideas regarding salt and service came to my mind. If we are serving patients at a hospital or Long Term Care, we can switch packets of salt to packets of seasonings. They don’t have to be the expensive kinds; different brands may offer different prices. I believe that it is better to first offer the different seasonings to patients before they can use or choose salt as an option. If serving customers at a restaurant, I believe that having the “Special of the Day” be the one that is lowest in sodium. These two ideas that I came up with are related to different sectors in the industry but it shows different strategies moving towards the same goal.
The second reason as to why reducing salt and introducing new seasonings in our menus is a benefit is because of the rise of immigration in Canada- specifically the GTA. “A census gathered in 2006 shows that 48% of the immigrants in the GTA were born in Asia and the Middle East while 31% were born in Europe” (Region of Peel, 2007). Now, the seasonings mentioned in reason 1 are popular among the Asian and Middle Eastern cultures (Adventure in Spice, n.d.). This way if in the near future the elderly population in Long Term Care homes see an increase in Asian and Middle Eastern backgrounds, our menus are already accommodated to their liking. We are able to provide them with familiar spices/seasonings and this may help (and I hypothesize) increase customer or patient satisfaction rates. In the future, we don’t have to switch our menus with everyone else in the food industry because we will be one step ahead.
Reducing salt in our menus should not be a problem but rather, it should be a solution to a problem.