“When it rains it pours.” We are all familiar with this olden phrase. I always assumed that the saying was an old proverb, but I found out recently that it was created as a marketing pitch for Morton’s Salt in 1914.
Back in the day, because salt has naturally occurring moisture within it, it would clump together when it rained or there was high humidity. Cooking became a chore when clumped salt needed to be used for seasoning. It required a bit of chiseling to pick hardened mounds of salt apart and then distribute it evenly in a meal.
Clumping became so much of a problem that Morton’s Salt developed an anti-caking agent that they added to their salt to allow for a free pour of sodium that never stuck together, even when it rained. This recipe, though modified throughout the years, is what we now know as one of the most common ingredient staples in every American kitchen — Morton’s free pour table salt.
It has been said time and time again that too much salt can have negative effects on overall health. The truth is we actually need a small amount of salt to remain healthy. Eating salt in moderation with home cooked meals can limit your sodium intake as table salt can be added into food gradually during cooking.
The actual risk of ingesting too much salt, however, comes primarily from eating processed and prepackaged foods. Too much sodium in a diet can result in high blood pressure which can lead to stroke or heart disease.
Perhaps the more unsettling and unknown danger in table salt stems from the anti-caking agents used to prevent clumping within the salt itself. There have been concerns about several anti-caking agents because of their names. Sodium and potassium ferrocyanide, for example, have been thrown into the spotlight because they contain cyanide, a well-known toxin.
Although the FDA approves the consumption of this compound due to the low percentage present in the salt, it still makes me wonder how safe table salt is to eat on a daily basis. Afterall, it is said too much of anything is bad for you. Over time, what kind of health risks are you creating for yourself by consistently ingesting anti-caking agents?
It is my humble opinion that the best, and healthiest, practices aren’t often convenient. Morton’s free pour table salt may have started as a good-intentioned project that made cooking more convenient, but is jeopardizing one’s health worth the convenience? One thing is for sure, for my peace of mind, I’d take the clumping kind.
How can you tell if there are anti-clumping agents in salt? My advice would be to read the label, but if you still aren’t sure, just look at the salt itself. Salt is not naturally snow white. It should have some color to it and should not be refined. Salt also should have a bit of natural moisture to it which will make it clump together if it is in humid conditions. Look at the packaging as well. Most salt brands that have anti-caking agents in them will be in cardboard boxes as they do not risk retaining moisture and ruining the packaging itself.
It’s amazing to consider what else goes into our food that is FDA approved. Don’t get me started on plastic tub parmesan. I’m just saying that I’m not sure I trust a dairy product that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. What I am sure of is that the list of questionable food additives doesn’t stop there either and quite frankly, I’m salty about it.