Archive for March, 2011

Salt Run!

While the recent disasters in Japan have been utterly devastating to watch unfold, the reactions around the world to the nuclear plant crisis at Fukushima Daiichi are also very interesting.

In China, although the predictions state that the radiation will very likely have almost little to no impact here, people are fairly concerned. So concerned, that it is now impossible to buy any salt at any supermarket in Shanghai (or Nanjing, for that matter). The local populations have been buying out the salt stores of the city daily, and the price of salt has quintupled over the past two days.

There are two main concerns – that if radiation hits – at least table salt is iodized, so they can eat extra salt to afford them the protection from the iodine. Of course, educated folks here know that the iodine levels in salt are not high enough to help in the case of radiation, but try telling that to the average "Joe". People are scared, and are doing what they can to feel prepared.

The other concern is that if the radiation has been seeped into the ocean, then any salt produced from sea salt may very well be contaminated by radiation. On that front, most folks probably don’t know that 80% of China’s salt production occurs in China’s interior. Of course, radiation contamination is serious, but so far, news reports seem to indicate that the radiation is moving away from China and China’s shores, toward the east.

Two interesting related happenings here: In typical fashion, folks here are trying to maximize profits from this recent run on salt. A company had purchased huge quantities of industrial-use salt and started packaging it as consumer salt to sell on the hot salt market. They did get away with selling a good bit, from what I understand – but they were caught quickly, thank goodness! Consuming industrial-use salt can’t be good for you!

The other happening was on the web – on the Chinese equivalent of E-Bay – "Taobao" – numerous sellers were offering to throw in a free bag of salt with any purchase over a certain amount. Rest assured, capitalism is alive and well here in China.

On a serious note, we hope and pray that the crisis in Japan resolves quickly – that efforts to cool the nuclear rods are restored and that the people of Japan and the greater world community can begin to focus on reclaiming their lives after the earthquake and tsunami.

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