Near-hysteria has destocked shelves along China’s eastern seaboard of salt. I first heard of the rationing of salt in restaurants when I was in Shanghai yesterday, eating lunch with Chinese friends. I wanted to put salt on my french fries. One of my companions offered to get the salt for me from the order counter. She mumbled something about salt being precious. I thought it was an odd comment. I looked around at the other tables in the restaurant to see none of them had salt shakers. I didn’t think anything more of it.
My wife later that evening told me over dinner how our ayi had bought a kilogram of salt. “It was so expensive,” she told me, “a single small bag can now cost 15 rmb.” Bags used to cost a couple yuan. She explained to me the near-hysteria with which Chinese consumers were buying up salt in fear of atomic radiation blowing in from Japan should a reactor explode at the Fukushima nuclear plant. The iodine in salt, so Chinese wisdom holds, will protect consumers from radiation poisoning. She told me, “I said to the ayi, ‘What are you going to do, eat handfuls of salt?” She said the ayi had no response.
- This is China! blog (via Shanghaiist)