In the olden days (which were in black and white, I have photos to prove it) sailors took barrels of salt pork on voyages. Not lightly salted bits of bacon, these were whole barrels of salt with cooked pork buried in them. They didn’t die and they didn’t know why the salt worked. Remember, these people knew that drinking salt water would drive you mad while living on heavily salted pork. Nobody ever said ‘Hey, hang on a minute…’
Incidentally, as proof of my contention that all the old monochrome works of art were coloured in when colour was invented in the Seventies, they missed one. There really was no such thing as colour in those days and that’s why we oldies struggle with it even now. 64 million colours on my monitor? I’ve only just got to grips with seven – and indigo isn’t real.
Back to salt. Sailors managed to get around the planet living on seriously salted roast pork and rum without dying of saltiness. More people die of salt deprivation than of oversalting according to a study I just made up like everyone else does these days. There was a reason for all that salt.
Clostridium, the bacterial genus containing gas gangrene and botulism, can’t live in it. Food packed in salt won’t let them grow.
Not much else grows either. Microbial life is like all other life, it needs water to live and salt has this habit of sucking the water out of things. So, salty things are safe to eat.
If you wanted to kill lots of people – or rather, if you wanted lots of people to kill themselves on command, one easy way would be to make them scared of an essential nutrient. Like, perhaps, niacin. Nicotinic acid. Derived from nicotine. Vitamin B3, without which you experience pellagra. Which looks a lot like ebola. That’s probably a coincidence. Probably.
Or you can get people scared of salt. It comes out of the ground. You are eating dirt. Why not pay more for ‘pure’ dirt which is nothing of the kind? Pure sodium chloride is white. If it’s pink it probably has manganese chloride in it, which is not dangerous but you’ll soon be told it is. If it’s not white it certainly is not pure salt.
The salt scare woirks so well that people admitted to hospital with clear signs of salt deprivation are put onto a low-salt diet. And a saline drip. The irony goes ‘whoosh’ over their heads and even comes back for another flypast.
And yet, salt reduction continues. Okay, maybe there is too much salt in processed foods but it isn’t there for fun. It extends shelf life by inhibiting bacteria and enhances flavour. When I am working hours that make fresh-cooking impossible, I do not add salt to the microwave crap I live on during those times. I know they are already salted.
Salads are inedible without salt. A stick of celery is wonderful with the bitten end salted each time. Boiled eggs with no salt? Unthinkable!
Yet the drones believe salt will kill them when it is one of the most important things for keeping them alive.
What will they fear next? Sugar, perhaps? The fuel that brains run on?
Oh, right. Of course…