Salt in Action
Salt can be found in packaged cereal, TV dinners, chips and french fries. It is in some canned soups and stews. It is hard to get away from it and this is not always a bad thing.
Strangely enough, salt is used in some forms of ice cream. There is an episode of New Tricks that deals with salt in ice cream.
Salt has at times been added to food to improve the taste of meals that have gone past their used by date.
In past ages, when food was scarce, this salting was a necessary evil. People may well have had better constitutions back then and were able to fight off the ill effects of bacteria that would lay most of us low today.
Apparently in some parts of South America salt was a form of currency that was more important than gold.
Salt has been used for centuries as a preservative.
It has been used to 'cure' fur.
It has been used to keep meat and also fish for longer than such food could otherwise be kept without it going bad. Salt has been used in this manner going back to at least Old Testament times.
The art of salting in order to store edible meat longer no doubt goes back even further to cave man times.
When you are going to bring down a large animal with primitive weapons you need the help of others to make it happen. You also don't want to do it too often.
In a time where even the most minor of injuries might turn septic and kill you, personal injury from a wild beast should not be risked on a daily basis. If this kind of enterprise is to go ahead, say, once a month, then the keeping of the meat and the fur thus gained for as long as possible becomes paramount. Thus using salt becomes a very good idea.
Salt has also been used to preserve the human dead. Human remains well preserved have been found in desert areas. In the Egyptian art of mummification salt is used as a drying agent. The drying prevents bacteria from attacking the body.
Strangely enough, dead bacteria have been preserved in salt, giving scientists clues as to how certain forms of bacteria have evolved.
Of course other creatures besides humans and bacteria have been given the salt treatment. Among other things, the Egyptians were keen on preserving dead birds. Dead birds were said to be capable of taking messages to the gods.
A saline wash (pure salt water) is used to keep the eyes moist when one is wearing contact lenses.
Butcher's salt is used to keep the small fish used as bait by fishermen from going too soft to be used.
A daily intake of salt in sensible quantities is actually good for you.
One of the reasons why the British defeated the Spanish armada in the time of Queen Elizabeth the first was because salt water got into the fresh water supply on some of the Spanish vessels. Thirsty men do not fight very well. Salt in this instance was good for tjhe British.
RISING SALT A REAL THREAT!
As noted earlier, salt can preserve, even save. It can also destroy.
It can hide the taste of bad food full of bacteria that can damage our health, even kill us.
A number of countries including the USA and Australia have a rising salt problem.
Too much salt rising to the surface in farmland results in dead crops and then in the soil becoming unsuited for growing crops. The local fresh water is also likely to become contaminated with too much salt causing even more problems for the farmer.
I have seen what was once rich farmland in New South Wales, Australia devastated by rising salt. To best way to prevent rising salt is to have enough trees around.
The best way to try to cure rising salt is to plant the kind of trees that can handle a lot of salt and then to eventually plant other trees as well. From the 1980s onward, there have been tree planting programs in Australia.
It has been reasoned that Mesopotamia eventually failed because of rising salt. The canals feeding the farms and also the city with fresh water would over time become too salty. When there was no where to dig a canal that hadn't already been previously dug the city became no longer a viable concern. Rising salt may have also been a factor in the fall of Mayan civilization.
When it comes to water, fresh supplies that are salt free are crucial to both plant and animal life.
One of the reasons why the Spanish failed to conquer England with their great armada in 1588 was that some of the barrels on board those vessels filled with drinking water split and became contaminated with salt water. You could say the salt in this instance was bad for the Spanish.
Another factor in Spain's defeat was the less than brilliant understanding the Spanish at the time had for the hazards of the British coastline.
Overall, there is more salt water than fresh in the world thus making fresh rather precious.
Salt in your diet is a good thing. Too much salt, however, can indeed be bad for you.
SALT FOR THE TASTE BUDS!
Salt has been used not only as a preservative but also to improve the taste of our food. Most people have salt and pepper at home to help flavor the nightly meal.
Salt can be found in many products for the table such as tomato sauce, steak sauce and ketchup. Salt is also found in potato crisp packets and also soup packets.
There are people addicted to the taste of salt just as there are those addicted to the taste of sugar.
Manufacturers of food stuffs tend to exploit these addictions.It helps to push their products. It also tends to allow consumers to lose track of just how much salt they are actually consuming on a daily basis.
Salt Remains a Part of Our Lives
Civilization as we have come to know it would not have been possible without salt.
On the other hand, salt has also been partly if not fully responsible for ending civilizations.
We sprinkle salt on our chops but, when added to water, it makes the water undrinkable.
We can be addicted to the taste of salt and this is not always a good thing.
In the Middle Ages salt was sometimes used to disguise meat that had gone off.
It was also used as a way of keeping fish edible for longer. Constantinople, now Istanbul, was well known for its shop owners and fishermen salting their fish.
More by this Author
Islamic State, milk and honey, Australia, the USA, the UK, mini-skirts, bikinis, slavery, Gandhi, French Revolution, Karl Marx, Holland, starvation, Ancient Rome, Robin Hood, World War One, Syria.
The Jazz Age, Josephine Baker, Ken Burns, The League of Nations, radio, the gramophone, Kangaroo, Ragtime, Ku Klux Klan, Elvis Presley, World War One, The Saint, The Great Gatsby, Pollyanna, Paris.
Bullying in the USA, Australia and France. School boy bullies. Nations throwing out democracy for dictatorship because of bullying. Religious bullies. Computer bullies. Fighting against bullying.