It would seem that I’m not the only one tearing into this poor Chronicle staff writer over his recent article on the “dangers” of salt. Apparently, Mr. Ackerman borrowed heavily from other sources to write his piece, including a 1997 article from the FDA’s magazine, FDA Consumer. And here I thought his limited knowledge of the five basic tastes was deplorable. But there are always new depths to plumb when it comes to the Chronicle…
You can read more about the developing story from my fellow Houston bloggers here:
Chron reporter borrows without attribution (blogHOUSTON)
Press catches Chron writer in plagiarism (Lone Star Times)
Salty sourcing from the Chron (HouStoned– The Houston Press)
The Houston Chronicle printed an interesting article this morning on “deadly salt” (yes, the actual headline contained the ridiculously salacious phrase “deadly salt”). The author, Todd Ackerman, provided the following insight on why giving up salt proves to be difficult for most people:
It is almost impossible to prepare a meal without salt — it preserves food by inhibiting bacterial growth, offers technical advantages in the kitchen such as raising the boiling point of water, and, as one of the four taste categories, adds flavor or heightens existing flavor.
Unforunately, Mr. Ackerman forgot that there are actually five basic tastes or tastebud receptors: salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami.
Umami, which was first identified by the scientific community in 1908, describes the taste of meaty or savory foods. Although the Western world has only embraced umami as a fifth taste since 2002, it’s still common knowledge that there are now five basic tastes.
That’s okay, though, Chronicle. You’re only about 100 years behind the times; I’m sure there are lots of events that you need to catch up on. For example, were you aware that in 1966 a man walked on the moon? I know! It’s crazy!
So while you’re off playing catch-up (and from the look of things, this could take a while) might I suggest hiring a fact-checker?