“A wise woman puts a grain of sugar into everything she says to a man, and takes a grain of salt with everything he says to her.” ~Helen Rowland
Throughout history, all civilizations depended on salt as the main ingredient for human survival. At its most basic, a sliver of salt makes food taste better. But as with many human industries, salt has brought ruin. In an area of Denmark called Læsø, salt production stopped in 1652 because seething salt in the huts required large amounts of fuel. By then, the salt industry had used up all the fuel wood on the island. (Læsø Salt Works).
It might be difficult for many of us modern city dwellers to comprehend what a meal would have been like that is already more than a year old, cured in salt. But there was no excess in those days. There was no assurance of a successful harvest every season. An entire country had to be fed.
For hundreds of years, Sweden’s imports of salt were 25% of the total goods being brought into the country. Salt was such a strategic commodity that, especially in wartime, Sweden had to be careful to safeguard the shipping routes that delivered this vital substance to her people.
Unfortunately, as with so much of the modern food system, we are likely over consuming salt. If you eat any amount of packaged or prepared food, you are getting a healthy dose of sodium. The content labels will show you just how much. Luckily, some foods are being prepared without any added salt, like canned tomatoes and beans. I try to make sure all the ingredients I cook with are fresh, or frozen, or canned without added salt.
No-one in my house has a medical reason to reduce salt in the diet. We like to add it back at the table and experiment with all the specialty salts that are now available. I’ve had this conversation so many times, that a friend of mine brought me some from Denmark. Now that is added to my arsenal of salt choices from around the world. Pink salt from Hawaii, lime salt from Mexico and the newest addition from Salish Sea Salts and Sea to Sky Seasonings. This is the final touch to a dish, and I like to encourage my family to create their own taste sensations.