Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What Does it Mean to be Salt of the Earth?

Last Sunday  at all the Masses in the Catholic World we talked about salt and light. We know how important salt is in our diet and also the harm that too much salt does to our health. An Incheon priest, in his sermon that appeared in the bulletin for Sunday, praises the many uses of salt and explains what Jesus meant  by telling us to be the salt of the earth.

Salt has been getting a  bad press in recent years. High blood pressure and hardening of the arteries are blamed on salt.  A salty diet is not considered a good diet. The priest says this is not all that should be said about salt. The problem develops, he says, because of the kind of salt we habitually use. Instead of using  refined salt, if we used sun-dried (unrefined) salt, the results would be different.

The big difference between refined and unrefined salt lies in the number of nutrients. Unrefined salt has only about 80 percent sodium and  many other different minerals while the processed salt has the many of the minerals removed, leaving 95 to 99 percent sodium. The refined salt has the impurities removed but also, in the process, removes many nutrients. The salt is more  expensive, the priest says, because of the time and effort involved in the harvesting.  

Two educational institutions have researched the problem and confirm that fermentation is quicker in  kimchi made with sun-dried salt  instead of refined salt, and there is more lactobacilli and nutrients in sun-dried salt, and the kinchi is crisper. There are also more anti-cancer fighting properties in the unrefined salt over the refined.

When it comes to health and discovering what is good and bad, it is never easy to get a precise answer, one way or another. Here in Korea the harvesting of sun-dried salt is big business and, according to the internet, continues to do well. 

Over the years what is called bamboo salt has often been received as a gift.  It is sun-dried salt that has been cooked in bamboo nine times and with great heat to enhance its health-giving properties.  Although considered a health food by many, bamboo salt, and its supposed remedial effects, is also ridiculed by many. 

Whatever the health properties of salt may be, Jesus did tell us  to be the salt of the earth, to be like salt--pure, giving taste and appeal to life, and  preventing  corruption--all of which makes for a  healthy society.