May 19, 2009 at 7:08 pm #1236427
I recently returned from another trip into the snows of the Cascades where I packed along some dinners made by Backpacker's Pantry. They were on sale so I thought why not. Well, while I was eating the Chicken Chipotle dinner I gave the nutrition lable a glance and yeses yisters yingle yangle there was nearly 2000 mg of sodium per serving! Because I ate the whole thing that meant I consumed nearly 4000 mg! Since I seldom if ever use salt much in my home cooking, I can't even begin to visualize what 4000 mg of salt looks like. So would it be a handful…a double handful?
While perusing the new issue of Washington Trails Association's magazine I ran across an article by Laurie Ann Marche on dehydrating food. The recipies mostly listed "salt and pepper to taste", while one specified 1/2 teaspoon. So how many mg sodium are we talking about here?
I don't have high blood pressure or any other health problems – probably because I avoid salt – but it seems like the freeze-dried industry is out to kill me. Yikes!May 19, 2009 at 7:15 pm #1502288
4 grams of table salt is about 1/2 teaspoon, plus a pinch or two.
But since sodium is only 40% by weight of NaCl you consumed about 1.25 teaspoons of table salt go get your 4 grams of sodium.May 19, 2009 at 7:25 pm #1502293
1/2 tsp of salt is on average 1,150 mg of sodium. So 4,000 mg? About 1 3/4 tsp of it. That is a LOT!
An average healthy adult needs no more than 2,400 mg of it per day.
So yes, as you can see….even a half bag of freeze dried food is scary! And who eats 1/2 a bag? Few!
You want scary…start looking at menus when eating out if you are in an area that requires it (like King County does). Sodium is more abused than fat these days.
As for me…due to being on a lower sodium diet at home I tell my readers to add salt as desired (unless it is a baked item done at home – baking does need a certain amount of salt to work in many cases.) Also why I call for low sodium bouillon – you can always add salt, you can't take it out!
As for commercial meals there are a few that are of decent levels. Mary Jane's tend to be on the good side (but not all, so read). A few veg friendly entrees by BP are better. But usually if you want to eat a decent sodium diet…you have to make it from scratch.May 19, 2009 at 7:25 pm #1502295May 19, 2009 at 7:51 pm #1502315
Sarah, I'm not familiar with MJ…is this a line of freeze-dried food and where is it available?May 19, 2009 at 8:30 pm #1502324
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> that meant I consumed nearly 4000 mg!
Either gross, or just obscene.
CheersMay 19, 2009 at 8:49 pm #1502332
edit: pretty lame selection, just google mary jane's farm backpacking food and you'll get plenty of places who sell itMay 19, 2009 at 9:47 pm #1502343
That is the full line! Btw, some REI's carry the packets – just not the whole line. They are veg friendly as well, lots of beans, etc in the meals. A pouch is 1 1/2 servings but are 1 person friendly for sodium.Jun 1, 2009 at 5:06 pm #1505055
Laurie Ann MarchMember
@laurie_annLocale: Ontario, Canada
Monty… sorry I didn't respond sooner. I just noticed this.
As you've noticed, for the most part, I say salt to taste (which generally means a little pinch). In the case of the Chipotle Sweet Potatoes I specified an amount because they need a little more than "a pinch" or "to taste". Per serving it's between 500 and 600 mg of sodium.
I tend to lean toward the side of a little less is better when it comes to sodium. There is some sodium that naturally occurs in foods too. North Amercians, in general, consume way too much salt.
Many commercial foods have a ton of salt because it helps extend the shelf life. Too bad it doesn't extend our lives.Jun 2, 2009 at 6:52 pm #1505396
"Many commercial foods have a ton of salt because it helps extend the shelf life. Too bad it doesn't extend our lives."
Well said! I always wondered why comercial food has so much g– d— salt, and I knew that salt is a preservative going way back (i.e., salt cod, salt pork, salt plums), but failed to connect the two. When I cook at home it's just a pinch, as you described.Jun 2, 2009 at 7:04 pm #1505402
Heavy salt also covers the use of less than premium food products used in commercial foods. Then again, canned food like meat really needs the added salt to last.
In the past meat was stored in salt to preserve. Wasn't a big issue back then though….since basic essentials like wheat, etc were very low in it.Jun 5, 2009 at 2:27 pm #1506215
"canned food like meat really needs the added salt to last."
Sarah, Laurie: I was thinking about trying Armor's Dried Beef, the one in the little glass jar, but it seemed pretty salty. And the only recipy I'm familiar with is the the old WWII standby, SOS (sh-t on a shingle), which would not be very doable backpacking. Any experience with using this?Jun 5, 2009 at 4:16 pm #1506237
You can soak/rinse it to remove a lot of the extra salt :-)
The other thing is you can use jerky in recipes – just tear or chop it up. Gives a pretty similar texture!Jun 5, 2009 at 4:20 pm #1506239
This is one of the many reasons why I always make my own meals, dehydrated or otherwise. I really don't have any reasons to buy prepared meals like these. If you make your own meals you'll get what tastes good to you and what is nutritious.
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