Monday, September 15, 2008

That's a Whole Lotta Salt!

Today, our A.O.S. Class 6 joined forces with A.O.S. 4 and we went on a field trip. We traveled to the San Francisco Bay to visit the Cargill Salt Fields. This is the view from the State Wildlife Park lookout. As far as you can see, flooded fields of bay water are producing the salt crops of the future. It take up to 5 years to harvest salt once it enters the system from the bay water. Cargill is actually the only producer in the world that produces real "sea salt." Not sea salt from ancient pools that no longer exist, but legitamite salt from the Pacific Ocean. Interesting............
It's hard to see, but out in the vast salt fields is a giant "scraper" vehicle and monsterous dump trucks that collect the dirty salt and carry it off to be washed. Please note my friend Ed's arm, we will discuss this in detail soon.
Back over at the overlook, you can see a small white hilltop on the horizon.................from close-up, it becomes an 80 foot pile of washed salt. This salt will undergo one more washing to remove the final impurities, or bitterants, and then will go directly into packaging. Incredibly, only 3% of this mountain of salt is actually destined for food grade use. The rest is used for animal feeds, sold to chemical/manufacturing companies, pharmaceutical companies, and mostly to clean off those icy roads all across the country during the winter.
Remember that one guys arm, it belonged to my new best friend, Ed. Ed and I thought that if careers in the food service industry don't work out, we always have the look of mid-level management to fall back on. A big thanks go out to Chef Tucker and Chef Wong for keeping us in touch with the hard working people that put their blood, sweat, and salty tears into making the products that we use everyday. Thank you Cargill for our introduction into the world of salt!

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