09/03/2009 03:53 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

That's It, I'm Not Paying for Salt Water Anymore

In tough economic times, those of us that aren't Arnold Schwarzenegger with a Jacuzzi and cigar have to cut out a luxury or two. The commodity that just got axed from my list? Salt water.

I didn't know I had been buying salt water until my company, which does online cause-related marketing and messaging, was asked to help raise awareness about the practice of "plumping" chickens.

Here's how chicken plumping works: a chicken producer takes 7 pounds of chicken meat, injects it with a pound of salt water with a big fancy industrial I.V., and then all of a sudden they have 8 pounds of meat. $14 worth of chicken is suddenly worth $16 via the ancient Just-Add-Water trick. It's not too different than when I take my son to Chuck E. Cheese and he wins 100 tickets playing Skeeball and then takes the tickets to the bathroom and gets them wet so when the prize guy puts them on the scale he thinks he has 200.

This would be bad enough if it was just water, but since it's salt water a plumped chicken has seven times as much salt as one that hasn't been plumped. I never noticed that I was buying chicken that had that much salt because like most people, I haven't read the label of a package of chicken in twenty years since I assumed I knew what was in it.

Hopefully the folks who have been saying that the worst of the recession is behind us are in fact right, and we can start enjoying the treats we've temporarily cut out of our budgets. If they are, I still won't be going back to shelling out $2 for salt water.