Sweet and salty
Everything sweet comes from the earth; every grain of salt emerged from the sea. Both of these ingredients are biblical; they loom large in our physical and spiritual histories. Our Judeo-Christian heritage promised a land of milk and honey. Honey is obvious but milk too is laden with sweetness. Carnation condensed milk, anyone?
Dr. Marcia Nahikan-Nelms, a nutritionist with The Ohio State University said that babies’ first response in taste tests is always to sweet. She showed photos of four newborns processing water, sour, bitter, and sweet. The fortunate baby who got the dab of sugar on her tongue smiled; the others looked either indifferent or distressed!
Glucose not only brings a smile to our lips, it is essential to our well-being. Animals need sugar to survive, for energy and for protein conversion. A fresh cow will start to stagger, go off her feed, and will die if not given heavy doses of glucose. An IV of glucose is administered immediately at the scene of an accident.
My ancestors, new to the southeast Ohio hills, dug for salt and it is reported found natural gas instead. They went away sorely disappointed. My great aunt died of a goiter and my grandmother had to have surgery.
Ghandi saw in salt a metaphor for freedom and marched his followers down to the sea to take it against British prohibitions. We put out salt blocks for our animals and wild beasts know where the best salt lick is. We, however, have lost our saltiness because real food has lost its taste and salt is a substitute for “getting it back!”
Because we are as a nation too hyper tense and obese, there are many edicts out which say we must forgo all sugar and salt or at least cut back. Nothing wrong with that. Our bodies and their natural needs have been taken advantage of and we have capitulated to processed foods because they are easier and they require no thought. The price for this laziness will be bureaucrats telling us, forcing us, to forgo salt and sugar. What was once essential is now overwhelming us for sure, and we come close to surrendering our freedom over what we eat.
Because as Ghandi knew instinctively, nature provides freely what the British controlled, we should also revisit the amazing availability of sweetness from the good earth — wheat, sugar cane and beet bulbs, milk, nectar, maple syrup and molasses, peas, corn, carrots. Without barley or rice or potatoes there would be no whiskey, saki or vodka.
We are surrounded by sweetness. Our bodies love it, need it. We don’t really have to relinquish sugar or salt. We just must remember once again the essentials and forgo the false addictions waiting always to be co-opted by a third party, a cadre of food police telling us how to live. We were born to sweetness and we need salt. And while we cannot do without salt or sugar, we can do without the sloth that goes with capitulation to “professionals” and to processors who have beguiled us with their image rich packaging and promotions.
We are more than our bodies. We know the value of a land giving freely of itself. Let us rejoice and be glad and not be lulled like lotus eaters into losing self-control, a commodity not yet captured by media giants.
We still have that choice. Or do we?
Sylvia Zimmerman is the owner of Fulton Creek Jersey Cheese in Richwood. She holds two graduate degrees and, when not working on her farm or pursuing her interest in sustainable agriculture, writes her own blog.