I had the pleasure of visiting the tiny Dutch town of Delden recently. Because it looked like a Dickens Village, especially since it was a white Christmas, we went back for a second time to explore the village a little more; our first time had been for a Christmas Eve service on a freezing night (the 14th century church served killer hot chocolate and cookies afterward. These Euros really know their chocolate.) So during the daylight we walked through the cobble streets and came upon a salt museum. I thought “what the heck is in a salt museum?” My love of museums ensured my whole family would go inside and check out what a visit to a museum about salt would actually entail.
It turned out that it contained a ton of information and facts about the history of salt and its importance from the time humans started walking upright. We have used it to cure and preserve foods, we have used it for centuries as money (the word “salary” was derived from the word salt since it was used as currency so often) and we have used it in medicine, in relaxation, in art and to help build the world around us.
Salt was also, unfortunately, a big reason for slavery and was one of the reasons so many Africans were sold by their leaders, in order to expand the huge salt revenue in the Caribbean. Salt has had a very long history in our world and continues to be a vital industry.
We were able to see how salt is converted into what we put inside our bodies today, how it looks in its natural form and how beautiful works of sculpted art can be created. We were also treated to display cases containing literally hundreds of gorgeous traditional and modern salt shakers which reminded me how every home and restaurant that I know of contains salt shakers that we use without even thinking about it; and therein lies a problem for many of us in the western world.
Our bodies have to have salt – without it we would die. Salt helps to balance our blood and is responsible for the electrical responses in our nerves that allow our muscles to move. But most of us are using far too much salt, mainly because our bodies naturally crave it, but not in the amounts we consume.