Salt Wars by Michael F. Jacobson [7/10]

A fascinating book on a subject far from our everyday thoughts, “Salt Wars: The Battle Over the Biggest Killer in the American Diet” is the masterful magnum opus of Michael Jacobson, who for four decades has been fighting the good fight on this issue at The Center for Science in the Public Interest. Jacobson is a gently forceful, erudite, rational observer and participant who has seen it all. It won’t surprise you to hear from me that the book’s storyline is simple: too much salt is deadly (leading, via hypertension and other paths, to heart attack and stroke and much else), and we eat far too much, yet the food industry, working from the tobaccos/climate change playbook, has deftly and determinedly managed to forestall any major public policy attention to the issue. Jacobson assembles the evidence, dissects it, and then tells the sad (to me) story. He is scrupulously fair, noting in detail that applying science to this subject has been tough (but not more than tough) and that gaining traction against our insidious longing for salt, present as a ubiquitous, invisible force, can seem almost impossible. At the end of the book, the author provides invaluable advice for us to tackle our own salt excesses, all the while reminding us that this (like climate change) is not a matter of individual freedom but one of governmental dietary care. Salt Wars is a must-read for concerned individuals and politically active souls.

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