Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Story of Salt
By Mark Kurlansky and S.D. Schindler
Most enjoyed by 4th through 8th graders

Salt. Simple table salt. We take it for granted as we shake it on our fries or put a pinch of it in a cake. But once you’ve read ‘The Story of Salt’, you’ll never look at the stuff the same way again.

We all need salt to help our bodies function. Without salt, we can’t breathe or digest our food. Did you know that we humans have enough salt in our bodies to fill three salt shakers? Animals need salt even more that we do. Early man got the salt he needed by eating wild animals. But once man stayed in one place and started farming, salt became even more important as something that could be traded for. Trading meant traveling long distances. To make a long journey, one needs to take food but food spoils quickly. That problem was solved when man discovered that salt acts as a preservative, turning pork into ham and cucumbers into pickles. Now, man could travel great distances simply because he could take along food.

Salt soon became a source of power as countries realized its importance. It was kind of like king of the hill only this was king of the salt pile. Countries fought over salt, smuggled salt, and created whole new businesses mining salt. In time, scientists found new ways to preserve food such as canning and freezing which lowered the demand for salt.

Salt deposits are all over the world. Good thing, because we still need salt to live. Reading this fascinating history of salt will make you appreciate all those little white crystals can do.

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