David Hines
Salty language
By David Hines
May 26, 2010

First they came for the marijuana. Then they came for the vitamins. Now they want your salt. Not satisfied with a theoretical 100% claim on your income, the government now considers the electrolytes in your body to be its property.

Advocates of condiment police will say that they don't want to stop you from sprinkling seasoning to taste; they merely want to dictate to food preparers. However, cooks can tell you timing is critical. Add at the right time, and flavors are enhanced. Add after the fact, and you merely make the food salty.

Salt is an age-old preservative — a natural one that provides necessary electrolytes. If that option is outlawed, what nasty chemical preservatives will we be required to consume as alternatives? And what effect will those additives have on our health? Have the salt police even considered the question?

People love to find scapegoats and brand them as unequivocally evil. This applies to consumables just as it does to people, corporations, and nations. During Prohibition, drinking wine was deemed harmful to you, both physiologically and legally. Now there is some indication that wine's resveratrol content may be quite beneficial. Nor does grape juice serve the same purpose; the fermentation process produces more resveratrol than is present in the unprocessed grape skins.

Modern substance prohibition got rolling a bit over a century ago, though there were some antecedents. When coffee hit the Muslim world, it was consumed in places where radicals sat about complaining about government. Coffee was blamed for the radicalism. As the beverage penetrated Christian realms, the Catholic Church debated whether to declare coffee the Devil's brew.

A century ago alcohol was the demon. In particular, absinthe was cited as a cause of madness. Wormwood was deemed the cause, by virtue of a minute amount of psychoactive chemical. In reality, it was because of those who preferred the drink that it was demonized. The drinkers tended to be radical artists and writers, particularly in Paris. Since artists and writers tend not to be the wealthiest of consumers, the absinthe was often of poor quality — a more likely reason than wormwood for any adverse effects. They probably got more buzz from the added sugar than from the wormwood.

In the US, prohibition of smoking opium was a restraint upon Chinese immigrants. Cocaine prohibition was a check upon black sharecroppers. Marijuana prohibition was a tool against Mexican migrant workers. These were all hard-working people, who sought some relief from heavy labor with a drug of choice that did not correspond to the mainstream culture's choices — alcohol and ingested or injected narcotics.

People quite often self-medicate. Eating clay has been practiced in various places as a mineral supplement. Booze was an antidote to unsafe water. Adaptations to conditions have been happening for millennia. People don't always make the best decisions, but then neither do people who happen to be politicians.

In our era substances have been highly concentrated, and have become ubiquitous. Beer and wine are less conducive to alcoholism than are strong distilled spirits. Opium was concentrated into morphine, then into heroin. Coca leaves, chewed by natives, became cocaine, which was then made into crack for rapid and intense delivery. Because government has artificially increased the price of sugar, we now eat more high-fructose corn syrup — a cheap and fattening alternative. In an era of big government, the philosophy of "more is better" seems to have an ubiquitous attraction. Moderation and tolerance have gone out the window.

So sodium chloride, also, must be subjected to political control. More control of your life is better. Having sold you on "more is better," a command to consume less is seen as the only feasible option.

Most may be aware that the word "salary" comes from "salt." Rome controlled the salt road from the region of Ostia, and paid its troops with the mineral. People whose diets consist of mostly grains require salt to maintain life. The Aztecs dominated a subject populace by controlling salt, and the British maintained a monopoly on the salt trade in India, thereby gaining both revenue and control.

Gandhi challenged the Raj by walking to the seashore to collect sea salt.

Politicians trained mostly as lawyers imagine themselves to be experts on chemistry, nutrition, cooking, medicine, psychiatry, and a host of other fields. They have yet to demonstrate their purported competence. They will experiment with your physical as well as financial health. Will they accomplish with our bodies what they did with our fiscal system? The condiment police are less concerned about health than they are about arbitrary control.

Maybe I'll see you down by the seashore collecting salt.

© David Hines


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David Hines

Note: David Hines passed away on April 1, 2017.

Born in a mill town, David Hines has seen work as a furniture mover, computer programmer/analyst, and professional musician... (more)


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