Pass The Salt

Words by Hannah Cremona
Photography by Niranjan Shrestha. 

It’s time to turn to nature my friends, because that table salt you’re eating is more than just increasing your blood pressure! 

What’s the different between refined and unrefined salt? 

Salt in its natural form is unrefined, therefore not processed or altered or filtered by man. Unrefined salt contains over 80 minerals and elements that our body needs and is often removed when refined. In contrast, refined salt contains sodium and chloride. 

In the US up to 2% of food-grade salt may contain anti-caking agents, free flowing or other conditioning agents. These agents may include sodium ferrocyanide, ammonium citrate, and aluminum silicate. None of these products have any positive effects in the body. Dextrose, also known as refined sugar, is used as a stabilizer so that iodide will stay in the salt. So pure refined salt is not actually 100% “pure”. Furthermore it only refers to the sodium and chloride content, whilst other so-called ‘impurities’, including healthy minerals and elements are removed. 

The result – a pretty darn bland product! The reason all ‘impurities’ are removed, including the minerals and elements, is to increase its shelf life. This means better commercial feasibility. 

The Solution? Oh the solution surrounds us! Privileged to be brought up and living in Malta means we are surrounded by healthy and mineral packed unrefined sea salt. But where is it on the shelves of our supermarkets and grocers? 

Sea salt is dried and prepared in the sun. Alkaline minerals present in sea salt bring many benefits, including hydration, ideal electrolyte levels and balanced sodium-potassium ratios in the body. These trace elements assist with proper immune system functioning, thyroid health and adrenal function. Natural unrefined salt also stimulate digestive enzymes that extract and assimilate nutrients and vitamins from the food we ingest. 

Malta & Gozo’s sea salt was traditionally collected in salt pans that dot the islands’ shores as a result of sea water evaporation. “Little to no processing is done or even required,” Adrian Attard from Gozo told us, ensuring a natural raw product ready for consumption. 

For over 300 years, the practice of collecting salt in these pans has been carried forward through families, generation after generation. Hand-dug out caves in the coastal rock were and still today are used to store the salt collected; now only a handful exist.

To this day, Adrian uses traditional tools used by his predecessors. Attard ends the conversation with, “who will continue this work? Who will collect the salt when I cannot work any longer?” 

So, are we doomed? No! Check out the salt you have been buying and if its refined sea salt source local sea salt from our local collectors. This will not only ensure that you are consuming a genuine product but also support the dying trade in Malta and Gozo.