The knowledge festival Food4You is launched at a quarter past four today. This year's slimmed-down version of the event focuses on science, and has a low-key festive content. No more cooking Brussels sprouts for a world record; instead, a lecture given by the founder of molecular gastronomy.
The hospital is another place where the two faces of salt are evident: 'too much or too little' is what Jan-Dirk Banga, an internist in the Gelderse Vallei Hospital, brings up during the Food4You symposium. Consuming too much salt raises one's blood pressure and causes kidney damage and heart and cardiovascular diseases in the long run. This is a serious problem as the Dutch consume 10 grammes of salt a day, while the recommended maximum is 5-6 grammes.
'The high quantity of salt in our food is mainly the result of habit,' says Banga. 'People who are used to sprinkling salt on their food are short-changing themselves. Those who suddenly put salt aside will find their food tasting rather bland in the beginning, but be rewarded afterwards with a more immense and distinctive taste.' In other words, they get to taste their food better.
It is notable, however, that even in a salt abundant country like the Netherlands, there are cases of salt (sodium) deficiency. Banga: 'This causes muscular weakness and a lowering in awareness initially. In rare cases, those affected become delirious or even go into a coma.' About 15 percent of his patients - most of them elderly - suffer from such problems. 'Sodium deficiency has many causes,' says Banga, 'but it is often related to certain medicines.' Diuretic pills, for example, remove salt while anti-depressants retain water.
Besides medical issues, this Saturday's public day will reveal many more facets of salt (and good food). Come on, the occasion does call for a bit of drinking and partying too. Food4You will last till 8 October. Like most activities, the opening symposium is held in the party tent on the Costerweg.