Himalayan pink rock salt
In New Zealand there’s an established market for pink Himalayan rock salt. You can buy it in granulated form to use as a table salt and many of you will know about the appeal of the rock when used as a lamp. Ours takes pride of place on the hearth in the lounge; it was a gift from our daughter and must surely be one of the biggest rock lamps around!
What you might not know, unless you’re the farmy type, is that chunks of the rock are often put in paddocks to provide livestock with a salt lick. I get the rocks in 25 kg sacks from the local farm supply store and some of the chunks are a two-hand lift job.
Small pieces are not much good for cattle – there’s a lot of meat, bone and guts behind a hoof that crunches them into fragments; I rescue what’s left after the cattle have done their darndest and give the bits to June as a salt lick for her goats.
Living things can’t survive for long if there’s no salt in their diet. Watch an insect, say a butterfly, land on the back of your hand to get the salt you’ve excreted when in a sweat. It’s not so obvious with carnivores and omnivores because there’s salt in meat, eggs and seafood. That’s in stark contrast to herbivores who, for the most part, eat plants that don’t contain salt.
We bring the rock to our domesticated ruminants, whereas animals and birds in the wild have an uncanny ability to suss out salt rich rocks and other mineral deposits for themselves. The trace minerals in the rocks and deposits, if in sufficient concentrations, will help compensate for mineral deficiencies in the animal’s diet.
Ground Himalayan pink rock is my table salt of choice. I start the day with one-third of a teaspoon in my porridge, a quarter on my lunch and half on my dinner – add to that the hope that my supplementary salt consumption is on the healthy side of the ledger. We don’t eat many salt-laden processed foods – that must surely have health benefits over and above helping to limit our salt intake.
I’m not a science denier by any manner of means, but when the scientists tell me that the trace minerals in my pink salt are in such minute concentrations that they won’t be of any help, I take their point with ‘a grain of salt’ (sorry – couldn’t resist that). Invoke the science of the ‘placebo effect’: you just gotta believe there are minerals in that salt that are doing you some good. Just ignore the small print on the salt packet which states: “Not to be considered a source of dietary minerals.”
Of course, the scientists and nutritionists will insist I need to concentrate: it may well be zillion year old pretty pink rock (coloured pink by iron oxide) from the foot of Everest but it’s still 98% salt mate! NaCl – sodium chloride! Get too much of a taste for the stuff and you’re playing dice with high blood pressure and its catalogue of ills.
Some have even pointed out that not all pink rock is created equal. An Australian study* of samples from several different locations found “varying levels of toxic heavy metals” and wondered whether they might “contribute to poor health outcomes”. However, in rock sourced from the Himalayas they were at concentrations well below what was considered safe for human consumption.
We get ours from a New Zealand company called ‘Mrs Rogers Naturals’ and BioGro NZ have verified that it is indeed a natural product. The spiel on the packet is also reassuring:
Natural and unrefined, mined deep within the Himalayan foothills. Free from added chemicals, additives and anticaking agents. Said to be over 250 million years old, the ancient salt bed is a remnant of an ancient ocean and regarded as the purest salt on earth, uncontaminated by modern pollutants and toxins.
Now isn’t that just wonderful as a reinforcer of ‘the placebo effect’?
*’An analysis of the mineral composition of pink salt available in Australia’: foods-09-01490-v3.pdf.
That’s all on modern-day homesteading at Little Owl Gully for this week. Next Monday I’ll tell you about a mineral-rich lick I sometimes put out for the cows. I got the recipe from Pat Coleby’s Natural Cattle Care book. I get stressed when I’m weighing out the ingredients because there’s copper sulphate in the mix: get the copper sulphate/dolomite lime ratios wrong and the cattle will get copper poisoning.
Thanks for your company. Bye for now.