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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's initiative to reduce salt consumption has raised the blood pressure of restaurateurs and nanny-state watchdogs who protest government "intrusion" into food and public health. But no one really disputes that Americans eat an unhealthy excess of salt, and that resulting health problems are a burden on the medical system. So even if the freedom to overdo it on the salt has many defenders, salt itself has basically none.

Enter Francis Lam, Salon's food and nutrition writer. In his post, "In Defense of Salt," Lam agrees that Americans need to cut down on salt and that Bloomberg's approach is a good idea. But he also takes a stand for the substance itself: "Look: Americans consume nearly twice the recommended dose of sodium, so something's got to give. But here's my rule: Don't be scared of the salt you use at home; be afraid when processed food makers are using it for you," he writes.

Because what shouldn't happen is for us to overreact, in typical fashion, and decide that salt is the new sugar, which was the new trans fat, which was the new cholesterol, which was the new Black Death. (Bring out cher dead!) Salt is good, people. Salt does magical things to food, and is even good for us. We just have to know how to use it.

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