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Penzeys: "We're cutting back on salt." [moved from Home Cooking]

blue room Jan 14, 2010 01:38 PM

I was a little surprised to see this in my newest Penzeys Spices catalog--a column explaining that Penzeys will
"no longer be selling the higher priced specialty salts. I [Bill @ Penzeys] feel things have gotten to a point where the specialty salts are glamorizing the use of salt and, with that, encouraging people to use more of it. I have also found that along with the marketing of specialty salt has come a great deal of misinformation, including claims that some salts don't affect your health like others do. This is just not true...salt is salt..."

I haven't tried too many salts, but thought some Chowhound readers here would be interested to see this.

They will continue to sell only "reasonably priced genereic salts of the sea and earth."

  1. r
    rainey Jan 14, 2010 03:37 PM

    Interesting!

    Altho I order spices from Penzeys all the time, I've never gotten salt from them. I wonder if others, when they want a specialty salt, think of Penzeys.

    They'll never get me to reduce my salt. I was a kid who picked through the pretzels to get the salt that had fallen off and I've grown to be an adult who thinks salt turns on the flavor of everything else. Happily my blood pressure has never been a problem but if it were, I think I'd have to settle for the early grave. ...particularly now that there are so many interesting salts like smoked salts, Murray River salt, crispy Maldon flakes, fleur de sel, etc. to choose between and so many interesting foods to feature them on.

    1. l
      link_930 Jan 14, 2010 03:51 PM

      Good for them! Not only for the long-term perspective, but to their resistance to the glamorization and faddish and fetishistic madness that comes upon single ingredients within the "foodie" sphere.

      1. Uncle Bob Jan 14, 2010 03:53 PM

        My guess Bill Penzey is looking at the bottom line...Not anyone's health....If they were selling enough of it profitably.. he'd sell truck loads of the stuff! It's a business decision wrapped up in a "feel good" blanket.......

        1. m
          Mellicita Jan 14, 2010 04:28 PM

          ummm... ok....
          Aren't those specialty salts suposed to be healthier and contain more minerals anyway?

          I agree with the poster who noted that if things were profitable, they'd continue to sell them

          2 Replies
          1. re: Mellicita
            blue room Jan 14, 2010 04:48 PM

            Naw, they'd just stop selling them *without* a long explanation in the catalog. Sounded heartfelt to me. It's not like salt would go bad or lose potency like ground spices, they wouldn't need a turnover of sales to turn a profit.
            A nice article about salt here
            http://www.cooksillustrated.com/taste...

            1. re: blue room
              Uncle Bob Jan 15, 2010 11:25 AM

              Dead inventory is Dead inventory....Space, lighting, heating and cooling cost money.
              A $1000 worth of Railroad spikes setting around cost money...You cannot have money tied up in slow moving/dead inventory....Better to have the money invested in something that will turn the money over...

          2. d
            dmd_kc Jan 14, 2010 04:48 PM

            I absolutely applaud his not wanting to dilute his brand by selling snake oil.

            1. bushwickgirl Jan 14, 2010 05:32 PM

              Perhaps Penzeys is possibly trying to stay ahead of the looming health curve, given the fact that they are a responsible, concerned company, and can read the writing on the very near future wall.
              The City of New York and it's illustrious Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week initiated a voluntary salt reduction drive for the food industry, starting with snack foods and eventually reaching into the fast food realm. Referred to as the "salt talks," NYC, in an effort to yet again food-police the nation, has reached out to big-name manufacturers to reduce salt content in their products by 25% by the year 2014.

              Of course, food manufacturers are snubbing the plan, citing the "false notion that there is sufficient evidence to connect salt consumption with cardiovascular disease."

              Here's the link for the Daily News short blurb, from which I quoted:
              http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2...

              Give me my kosher and my sea salt and my choice to use them at my pace and leave me alone.

              On another note, I find the the glamorized insanity of salt to be more than a bit over the top. Choices are great but adoration at the feet of the salt God is something else.

              2 Replies
              1. re: bushwickgirl
                r
                rainey Jan 14, 2010 06:04 PM

                I can understand what you're saying because vertical food always struck me as far too precious for words. But, OTOH, a lightly smoked salt on a slice of fresh tomato is good enough to change the experience. A delicate flakey salt on tempered chocolate is GOOD.

                Or at least that's the way I'm wired. I'd rather have something salty than something sweet. I'd rather have vinegar than wine.

                1. re: rainey
                  bushwickgirl Jan 14, 2010 06:23 PM

                  I appreciate your choice and when I said give me my kosher and my sea salt, I was not canceling out the myriad of choices and their applications, it's a wonderful thing; I'm just tired of the overblown salt "hype." the $$$ mystic that surrounds the stuff. I liked the quote "reasonably priced genereic (sic) salts of the sea and earth." That's what it's really all about.
                  I'm with you on the salty thing, although I tend to like a glass of wine over a glass of vinegar, but vinegar is not to be denied.;-)
                  Have a good weekend, rainey.

              2. c
                cheesehead in recovery Jan 14, 2010 07:16 PM

                I do wish they would put less salt in their Greek and Turkish seasonings. I like both of them, but I generally don't cook with Salt... so Less salt would be a welcome change, and it means I could use more of the seasoning in my cooking. Yum.

                2 Replies
                1. re: cheesehead in recovery
                  r
                  rainey Jan 14, 2010 08:22 PM

                  Call and ask what non-salted version they have. For example, they sell a Sunny Paris blend (no salt) that's the same as Fox Point (salted) except for the salt. Don't know if they have non-salted versions but it would be worth a phone call to find out.

                  1. re: cheesehead in recovery
                    j
                    joonjoon Jan 15, 2010 07:21 AM

                    I wish, in general, spice mixes would come without salt. Let me decide how much spice I want to add to a dish without oversalting it!

                  2. MandalayVA Jan 15, 2010 08:06 AM

                    I posted about this on the Food Media board--I was told by a worker in the Richmond VA store that the stores were told the salts were being removed due to low sales volume, but Bill Penzey's always been a major salt and fat phobe so of course he had to put the pious spin on it in the catalog. And if he's going that far he should remove ALL salts and mixes with salt. You know, so it doesn't get "glamorized."

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/679679

                    1. Perilagu Khan Jan 15, 2010 11:53 AM

                      First they came for your cigarettes. Then they came for your salt. Next they will come for your butter. Then they will come for your red meat, your cheese and your ice cream. And ultimately we will all be assimilated to the vegan borg. God what totalitarian, infantilizing idiocy this is.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Perilagu Khan
                        r
                        rainey Jan 15, 2010 01:50 PM

                        Isn't that a *trifle* dramatic?

                        Nutritionists are advancing information about the positive effects of some foods and the negative effects of others. And a business man is making decisions about his business and how he wants to disseminate the information. I don't see that anyone's ox has been gored here.

                        Regardless of my own decision to indulge freely in salt, I am grateful to have as much information as I can get about the effects of various foods and good preventive health. Personally, I think there's a *reason* my body wants salt and I respect that. Meanwhile, if I can compensate for one indulgence with other more productive and informed decisions I feel better off. So far nothing has been involuntary. Ignorance, OTOH, is *not* the same thing as a free choice.

                        1. re: rainey
                          Perilagu Khan Jan 16, 2010 07:08 AM

                          I was referring to the nanny-state impositions of Bloomy.

                          1. re: Perilagu Khan
                            k
                            KTinNYC Jan 16, 2010 07:17 AM

                            There are no impositions when it comes to the salt issue in New York City. No laws are being made in the sodium reduction plan. The city is going to set goals and use public pressure to try to get compliance from companies.

                      2. s
                        sueatmo Jan 15, 2010 04:06 PM

                        They only started carrying the expensive salts in the last couple of years, and even then I think Bill expressed doubts about doing so. He seems to feel that they aren't worth paying extra for.

                        1. MsDiPesto Jan 17, 2010 07:59 PM

                          I was disappointed to see this announcement in the catalog. My local store still carries various salts, for now. The Shallot Salt is very fine, and makes a perfect popcorn salt. I always thought the salt prices were reasonable for what you received. The stores also carry boxes of Diamond Crystal kosher salt.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: MsDiPesto
                            MandalayVA Jan 18, 2010 03:11 AM

                            I don't think they're getting rid of stuff like the shallot salt (which I also love) and garlic salt, just the specialty salts.

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