Yes, I said salt panic. And yes, I mean salt, like you would use to season your fries. And the nation it is gripping? China. And I seriously can't blame them for their run on the market! The images of throngs of Chinese trying to get their hands on some iodized salt reminds me of the panic felt here when a major snowstorm or hurricane is headed our way. Lines at gas stations, Home Depot emptied out, and not a thing left in the supermarket, from meats to bottled water.
No matter how irrational, I totally understand that panicked attempt to protect myself and my family. Their iodized salt is my duct tape immediately following 9/11. It won't help them, but it will make them feel better to have it.
This is just another awful ripple effect of one of the worst natural disasters in my lifetime. But why iodized salt you ask? The Chinese believe that iodized salt will protect them (because of the iodine) should Japan's reactors go into full meltdown mode (it will not). The clamor was apparently ignited with a rumor (no, not spread on Twitter) that a radioactive cloud from Japan's Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear plant would reach them. As of right now, there is no evidence that is going to happen, but who can blame them for wanting to be prepared?
In fact yesterday, Michael O'Leary, the head of the World Health Organization in China, offered some assurances:
To date, we don't have any information of a significant spread of radioactive material beyond the evacuation zone. At present, we still understand it's very confined. That's why there's an evacuation zone around the nuclear reactor itself.
Nevertheless, folks in major Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, and Hangzhou crammed grocery stores and bought up every salt item on the shelves.
Below are some images and a report by CNN on what went down ...
Can you see a mass panic like this, caused by a rumor and misinformation, taking hold of the people in this country?
Image via Morton Salt