Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sea Salt

It's been a while since I really replaced something in my pantry from completely unnatural or "buy whatever is cheapest" to something I actually thought about a little.  Mostly, that's because I had kinda hit that wall where the big things that needed to be replaced either got used slowly or had been purchased at Sams.

Ironically, we've been out of regular salt at my house for almost a month, but because I needed salt, I just filled the shakers with pickling salt.  Pickling salt is non-iodized, because the iodine can cause discoloration when canning.  There were still a few sea salt grinders in the house, but I don't really get the point.  Pepper grinders make sense.  Pepper loses flavor the longer it sits after grinding.  If you want a robust pepper flavor, you have to grind it.  Salt, on the other hand, is a mineral.  It never goes bad or looses its flavor.  Sure, it can clump if you let it get too damp but there's nothing wrong with just breaking it up again.  I don't see the point of buying it in big chunks, just to drive your wrist nuts grinding it yourself.

I went to the store on Friday with pre-ground sea salt on my list.  I was surprised that there wasn't any salt in the natural/organic section of the store, but there sure were plenty of choices in the baking aisle. I grabbed Morton's natural sea salt, ground 'til it measures like regular salt so it can be used for baking as well, and went home pleased that I had made another step in the right direction.

But did I?  Since the 1920s, most salt sold in the US has contained Iodine.  This change was instituted after the WWI draft physicals revealed a plague of hypothyroidism, which is caused by an Iodine deficiency.  On one hand, I am intentionally avoiding things unnecessarily added to my foods.  On the other hand, this is a necessary dietary need, even moreso for those eating for two it turns out (No, I am not eating for two, but we've been working on that for a while now and I'd like to stay prepared).

Enter Google: Other dietary sources of Iodine are dairy products, Eggs, bread and saltwater fish.  Unfortunately, while they can tell you that organic dairy and eggs do contain iodine, there is this undefined sense that it is less so because their feed isn't as loaded with it as non-organic animals.  I'm not sure what to think about that, because seafood really isn't my thing.  I eat LOTS of dairy products and eggs, but is it enough iodine if they're organic?  I'd really hate to be depriving us of an essential nutrient in the name of eating healthier.  Apparently Morton sells iodized sea salt.  But how do they add iodine and still preserve all of the awesome mineraley goodness of sea salt?

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