Worth Its Salt – Interesting Facts About Our Favorite Seasoning

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800px-Salt_shaker_on_white_backgroundSalt is probably the most popular seasoning in the world. It is hard to imagine eating a number of our favorite foods without a sprinkle of salt. However, did you know that salt bars were once used as currency?

Read these 15 interesting facts and find out how salt was used before it found its way into your kitchen cabinet.

Fact 1: Salt was of crucial importance to the economy. The word „salary“ comes from the word „salt“. Roman soldiers received a part of their pay in salt, it came to be known as solarium argentum, from which we derived the word salary.

Fact 2: Salt was one of the world’s main trading commodities. The salt routes spread throughout the world as civilization grew. In Medieval Europe, Venice flourished economically by monopolizing salt. Venetians traded salt in Constantinople for the spices of Asia.

Fact 3: In the 6th century, the Moorish merchants traded salt for gold, gram for gram, and in Abyssinia (Ethiopian Empire) salt coins, about ten inches long and two inches thick, become the coins of the realm.

Fact 4: A high tax on salt, otherwise known as gabelle, imposed by Louis XVI is one of the contributing causes of the French Revolution.

Fact 5: Romans also used salt as an antiseptic; hence the word for these salubrious crystals (sal) is linked to Salus, the goddess of health. Furthermore, it is recorded that thousands of Napoleon’s soldiers died during their retreat from Moscow due to a lack of salt and the resulting inability of their wounds to heal.

Fact 6: The common phrase “he was not worth his salt” actually stems from ancient Greece and Rome where salt was traded for slaves.

Fact 7: Salt is linked to religious rituals throughout the world; it often symbolizes incorruptible purity and avoidance of decay. Many cultures still believe that spilling salt brings bad luck. Old English belief has it that every grain of the spilt salt represents a tear that will be shed in the future. The French believe that when one spills salt, he should throw a little of it over his shoulder into the devils face to prevent further mischief. In Buddhism, salt is believed to repel evil spirits and it’s customary to throw it over your shoulder before entering the house after a funeral.

Fact 8: Salt can be found underground and on the earth’s surface in the dried up residues of seas. Today our biggest sources of salt are our seas and oceans. It is estimated that if all the oceans dried up they would yield 4.5 million cubic miles or 19 million cubic km of rock salt.

Fact 9: China is the largest salt producer in the world and is closely followed by the United States.

Fact 10: The Dead Sea is approximately nine times saltier than the ocean.

Fact 11: Salt is present in the bible; “You are the salt of the earth” said Jesus to his disciples. The word salt appears over 30 times in this Holy Book.

Fact 12: The World Health Organization recognizes that salt and smoking are similarly harmful and that both equally contribute to heart disease. WHO requests that all countries reduce salt intake by 30% by 2025.
Fact 13: According to WHO, if the world reduces its salt intake to recommended levels, a total of 2.5 million deaths could be prevented each year.

Fact 14: In his peaceful struggle for the independence of India, Mahatma Gandhi launched a Salt March, a 250 mile march to the sea. There Gandhi and thousands of protestors, in resistance to the British salt monopoly, made their own salt. This movement undermined British authority and spread to other campaigns against British rule.

Fact 15: Have you ever notices that your tears are salty? This is because every cell in our body contains salt! The average body contains 250 grams of sodium, the amount of approximately four saltshakers.

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