Dietribes: Salt

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Just after I asked you guys how to get rid of that high salt content in Ramen a few weeks ago, here I am pouring it on (nudge nudge) this week. This post contains 27% of your daily value for salt, one of the most important compounds and foodstuffs known to man.

"¢ Of course, salt has many other uses besides enhancing flavor and preserving food. As most of you know, it was also used to preserve humans. One of the most interesting naturally-occurring cases is that of the "Iranian Salt Men," whose remains from 1800 years ago have been preserved naturally in salt mines. Even their hair stayed intact!

"¢ You may pour salt on everything you eat, but you certainly don't pour ... bleach? Still, Clorox bleach starts and ends as salt and water. Clorox was in fact founded on converting brine from a salt pond into bleach. This all sounds too good and non-toxic to be true ... any chemists want to weigh in with their two cents?

"¢ One major non-food related use of salt is for de-icing roads. Not something we much think about here in Hotlanta, but "in the United States, only 8 percent of salt production is for food. The largest single use for American salt, 51 percent, is for de-icing roads." Salt was first used in this capacity in the 1930s.

"¢ Speaking of the 1930s—1930 itself to be exact—it was the year Gandhi and 78 other men walked 240 miles from the Sabarmati Ashram to the Sea of Dandi, in an act of civil disobedience against the British Salt Tax (which forbade the production or selling of salt by anyone but the British government, and also heavily taxed salt in general). After arriving at the Dandi coastline, Gandhi illegally collected salt and encouraged others to do so, for which he was arrested—a seminal moment in the movement for Indian independence.

morton-salt.gif"¢ There are many uses for salt, but what about varieties (such as iodized)? What's the deal with that umbrella girl? In the early 20th century, Michigan seemed to have a high prevalence of goiter. (A 1922 study even identified it as a "goiter belt.") The Michigan State Medical Society and a man by the name of Dr. David Murray Cowie took up the cause and eventually tried to promote the use of iodized salt (potassium iodine added to salt) as a solution. Michigan salt producers took their advice, and Morton's took it national in the fall of 1924. For more on salt additives, check this out.

"¢ If you're like me and the early Romans (the word "salary" originates from the word for money allotted to Roman soldiers for the purchase of salt; hence, their pay), and you can't get enough of salt in general, try visiting the Salt Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas. Has anyone ever been?

"¢ Other stops on your Salty Tour of the US might include the mystical wonder of the Galos Caves in Chicago, and of course the Great Salt Lake in Utah. At the end of your salty journey, find relaxation at a Salt Spa for a mere $15.

"¢ Take this site with a grain of salt, you salty dogs, but it has theories on the origins of some common salt-related phrases that might make it worth its salt. Ok, I'm just rubbing salt in the wound now. Seriously, I'm stopping.

Hungry for more? Venture into the Dietribes archive.

"˜Dietribes' appears every Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.

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April 30, 2008 - 12:18pm
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