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Salt and its Diverse History - Part One

Episode 1 of 2

An exploration into the rich, perhaps unexpectedly diverse history of salt.

It is easy to take salt for granted - its abundance on supermarket shelves, coupled with the development of refrigeration and freezing for our food, means we can all too readily overlook its vital and multiple role in our history. In the first of two programmes, Steph McGovern sets out to explain this role. She hears how it has taken root in our language, visits a chemistry class to find out about how it is produced and its importance to our physical well being. She talks to history professor Peter Wallenstein about the unexpected importance of salt in military strategy right up until the 20th Century.

Pierre Laszlo explains how salt not only helped shape economies and cities like Salzburg, Munich and Venice, but also played a crucial role in revolutions across France, America and India. And, Steph also visits a graveyard and hears talk of the tradition of sin-eating at Welsh wakes, an illustration of salt’s widespread place in religion and superstition across the world.

Finally she talks to a commodities expert to discover just how much salt is worth today - significantly less than the days it was traded like for like with gold.

(Photo: Senegalese workers harvest salt at the Ndieumou salt fields, near Fatick, Senegal. Credit: AFP)

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28 minutes

Last on

Sun 19 Jul 2015 11:32GMT

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