It is essential – and evil. If it is not managed on a daily basis, it can overwhelm. Stealth is its weapon of choice. It’s presence is hidden and must be sought out. It is salt.
Growing up, I didn’t realise there were different types of salt. I’d only heard of iodised. In my early 20s, I discovered, but did not understand, rock salt. Salt was not “of the earth” but a packaged item from the supermarket shelf to be poured into pieces of multi-coloured ceramic.
Tucked away on a farm in the middle of NSW in the 1960s, salt shakers were the closest most of us got to the idea of sculpture. The sheer variety taught us about possibility. Salt grinders were discovered later in the gourmet section of life, but they turned out to be a soulless gadget in comparison.
I very much enjoyed filling the salt shakers. Pouring the salt was like pouring a liquid, and therein lay a childhood fascination. The boundaries of the known world were on the move again.
I did not like adding salt to my food. However, it is essential and the body will seek it out when needed. I would crave lettuce sandwiches. Take one slice of bread, pile on some crunchy iceberg lettuce leaves, sprinkle liberally with salt, roll the slice of bread as best you can around the lettuce – it is better if the bread gets squashed in your hands – and eat.
When I left home in my late teens, my salt intake increased with the amount of processed food I ate. I haven’t indulged in salt-laden lettuce sandwiches for years.
I heard recently that even a tin of tomatoes must be closely observed lest the one with added salt lands on the pantry shelf.
- You don’t have to have high blood pressure to be at risk from too much salt. There is a host of diseases linked to high salt intake. I was surprised to find that salt can aggravate asthma. Significantly for me, at my age, a low salt diet can help the body retain calcium. (Check out Chapter 1.7 in the Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults.)
- Cheese is a no-no if you want to reduce salt. Thankfully, there are a couple of exceptions. My baked ricotta is still on the menu, but solid cheeses are on my watch list.
- ABC’s The Pulse website points out that some of the supposedly healthly foods are too high in salt. The examples include stir fries, wholegrain bread, low kilojoule breakfast cereals, lite cheese and canned fish. Oh dear. (Click on The Pulse to go to its website.)
- The salt factsheet on the Better Health Channel is a winner – a range of information that is well presented. I didn’t realise that bread in Australia is now being fortified with iodine. Unfortunately, if we eat too much bread, we are also at risk of a higher than necessary salt intake. (Click on Better Health to go to the fact sheet.)
The glorious photos below are courtesy of my sister who has an amazing collection of salt and pepper shakers.