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Thread: Salt and Sugar

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Default Salt and Sugar

    I hate to plaigarize, but this comes straight from a book. "The Old Beloved Path" talks about daily life of the local natives from paleo times. I have been reading and came to the "wilderness school" section where it talks about obtaining sustenance from nature. The Woodland Indians were truly masters of their environment. There was a good section that I think many of us could research further for more plants and sources of Salt and Sugar. Here goes.

    The Woodland Indians had many sources for both salt and sugar. Salt could be obtained throught trade with coastal tribes or those that lived near inland salt licks or salt springs in what is now Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Louisiana. The Indians also burned a certain moss that grew in creeks to produce a salt substitute (Salt Creek in Talladega County, Alabama, probably refers to this practice). They did the same with stalks of a particular herb, thought hto have been an orache (Atriplex spp.). Ash of hickory bark also makes an acceptable salt substitute, as any competent woodsman knows.
    Sugar could be obtained from the sugar maple simply by tapping the tree and boiling the sap, then letting the syrup evaporate. Most people are familiar with this process, which is still in use today wherever the sugar maple is found. However, few people realize that the same method can be used to produce syrup and sugar from other trees found in the valley. The best of these are the sycamore, red maple, walnuts, and hickories. The sugar contents of these trees is not quite so high as is found in sugar maple, but the syrup they provide is far better than no sweetener at all. Honey locust pods were also eaten for their sugar content.
    down here we also have sugar cane, which can be eaten raw, or cooked down and evaporated to produce sugar. this is probably the most common method of obtaining sugar today.
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    There was a very large salt spring in Southern Illinois near Galatia. Known as the Saline Springs, they supplied salt to a large portion of the Midwest. It was such an important asset to early Pioneers that the taxes from the sale of salt helped keep the fledgling state solvent. It was also a point of contention for statehood because many wanted Illinois to be a slave state since slaves were used to cut the firewood needed to evaporate the brine. There was also a large slave plantation near the springs. Now you know.

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    Quality Control Director Ken's Avatar
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    The ocean practically reaches my driveway, so I'm okay with a salt supply.

    We have plenty of maples around, too, but I have a question: Wouldn't sugar beets provide a more convenient source for sugar?
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    Senior Member Ted's Avatar
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    Off topic but a rather funny!

    When I was doing my hobo thing I had a very bland diet, mostly weeds raw. fish,crawdads ,and mussels,just stuck on on a stick and cooked over a fire.Point being no salt.(you'd be suprised what you can get use to.)

    So shortly after those days had come to an end, I was invited to stay at a freinds for supper ,catfish and bluegill. It was the best fish I'd ever eaten! I asked what the batter was ,and they told me flour and eggs. I said no,the spices. They looked at me like I was nuts. Then they said laughing,"Well Teddy,...that would be salt and pepper!"
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    They make syrup here in Indiana with hickory. I went salt and dairy free for a year and a half as part of a weight loss plan that worked very well. It was an expensive dietary lifestyle. When I becane un/under employed I could no longer afford it. I ate a Nations double bacon, double cheese a friend took me out and paid. Very salty, very cheesey, very delicious but I discovered I hsd made myslf lactose intolerant.

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    I just don't get the sugar thing. What is the need?

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    I don't guess there is a "need" for salt or sugar, but isn't it nice to know that you could make your food salty with some tree bark, or sweeten your sassafras tea with sap? I thought it might be a small bit of knowledge that might lend some comfort in a wilderness setting. Morale boost.
    Of course, if you don't like salt or sweetener, you could just disregard the post altogether and not have salt or sweetener. I prefer to learn such things, since the folks who lived here 10,000 years ago knew it and practiced it on a regular basis.

    I do think Sugar beets would make a good substitute for sweet desserts.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Batch View Post
    I just don't get the sugar thing. What is the need?
    Both salt and sugar are valuable as preservatives.
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    Senior Member BENESSE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    Both salt and sugar are valuable as preservatives.
    That's worth remembering.
    Just 'cause they are bad for you in general doesn't mean they aren't extremely useful in other ways.

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    me, myself, and I Trabitha's Avatar
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    Without salt we can't sweat. Our bodies NEED salt to survive.
    Funny, we were just talking about this the other day. I know we have some local plants that release a "salt like substance" when boiled down. I just have to look up what one it is. Living in farm land it's funny how my first reaction was "salt licks." LOL!! Farmers put them out in their fields along with mineral blocks. Not the most sanitary, I know...but if you're desperate...

    I'll look up that plant today...
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    Over here we have a wild herb called Sweet Cicely it's used to sweeten things, goes great with Rhubarb!
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    Both salt and sugar are valuable as preservatives.
    YCC, that's why I was asking the question, to learn.

    I thought the drift of the sugar was as a sweetener. You no to fix your sweet tooth. I was thinking aren't a bunch of the things people pick up North sweet? You know the berries and stuff.

    I am interested in the topic myself. I kinda got thrown off by the line:
    "Honey locust pods were also eaten for their sugar content. "

    Seemed like they were trying pretty hard at keeping their sugar levels up. Which just made me think about diabetic people. That would be a survival thing.

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I think folks really confuse survival need with want. With the exception of the scenario Pict recently outlined, there really is no reason to intake additional salt. Diet supplies more than enough.

    As to early Americans, salt was a flavoring and a primary way of preserving foods along with smoking. Sweeteners of any type are just a way to keep our foods from being dull, in my opinion. Wild honey, for example, was a delicacy not a required staple.

    @Batch - I'm not certain what you meant by being confused on the Honey Locust comment but the seed pods are quite flavorful around September or October around here. There's not a lot of sweet flavor but there is enough that Native Americans around here could brew a beer like drink from them.

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    the sugars from the saps can also be used to treat wounds. and I dunno about you, but I like a little something sweet in my sumac tea.. it's a little tangy for my taste. Lots of sweet treats like "fruit roll ups" were made back then by crushing liquifying and smoothing and drying out. imagine sumac sweetened with raspberry or persimmon... mmmmm. I'm sure that they realized the importance of energy levels, but people actually consume a lot of sugars with vegetable intake, and expecially fruits. Same with salt. our intake usually is in excess naturally, and I feel that aside from the medicinal uses of salt, and sugar, they were largely used as flavorings. Of course, a sugary snack on the trail for most of us means a quick energy boost. That book is giving some great insight into the way people used to live. It list lots of plants that were basic staple foods as well as amendments, and spicings. The Native menu was neither boring nor bland

    Winnie, I don't like sweet greens... I use peppersauce and spice em up! bitter and hot!
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    Actually some cultures and some areas do tend to require supplementary salt. these include people on a diet limited in red meat, people from mountainous regions, people prohibited from certain meats or dishes due to taboo or tribal law and people living in very arid regions.

    Aborigines in some regions of Australia especially the central desert regions use very alkaline ash taken from ancient standing hardwoods as a "dip" for meat and tubers etc, without it they report much cramping and "head sick", kind of a shorthand for anything ranging from irratability to irrational behaviour.

    Dense jungle people also are often found to manufacture supplementary salts from burning certain plants know to store higher than average levels of salt within their cells.

    The more you sweat, the more you need. That's why people who totally bust their guts out in climates like mine not only tend to get pretty sick without the odd extra pinch of salt, most of us occasionally require mineral/electrolyte supplements if we want to avoid leg-twisting levels of cramp and general sluggishness.

    Not all biomes are created the same, it's important not to confuse traditional and practical use of chemicals or compounds with our more modern, frivolous use of them.

    Certainly not much chance of the average modern westerner running short on salt (and certainly not on sugar) from sitting around browsing the interwebs, or even on a couple of day's walking. Keep em working in the sun for 50 hours and see how fast they're reaching for the salt shaker, or relishing the tangy salty sweat off their own top lip. Moreso if for some reason they cannot obtain,eat or properly digest red meats.

    Sugar is also very useful for fermentation, in certain kinds of village chemistry and is used medicinally in much the same way as honey in some regions of the world. It is also a convenient, compact energy source that keeps well and is a very easily traded commodity (unless you live on an island full of sugarcane!).

    Natural alternatives would include boiled-down fruit or berry juice, sweet exudates from certain trees such as "honeydew" from eucalypts and some acacias, sweet insects like honey or green ants, or naturally sweet tasting herbs (even if I think Stevia tastes like diet coke, ew) such as lemongrass, lemonbalm/melissa and in australia Lemon Myrtle.

    Also palm sugars... pretty much a staple in some regions, and in many more "civilised" parts of the world relevent species are planted as ornamentals or escape into rural fringes from people's gardens. Might be worth looking into if you just cannot live without some sweetness.

    many cultures also regard honey (and pollen) as a very critical commodity, especially in climates or ecosystems that tend to contribute to infection, cold/flu and for treating wounds. Many South American jungle groups use it to treat just about anything. It also makes a passable rooting stimulant if you find yourself having to set up an edible or medicinal propagation area in a long term situation...vegetative reproduction being usually much faster than from seed, and with more predictable results.

    In short, one man's need can sometimes be another man's want... just the same as I don't need arctic rated jackets to live, but a lot of you certainly do! Because I live without one, does not mean that you could.
    Last edited by hybrid; 03-14-2010 at 02:47 AM.
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    I'd recommend anyone really curious about the real history of salt to read ...

    http://www.amazon.com/Salt-World-His.../dp/0142001619

    Long before it was a luxury, or a want, it was considered fairly critical, for preservation medicine and early chemistry...well worth fighting the occasional war over and one of the most influential commodities in world history. Only have to look at the extreme measures taken during independence and the civil wars in the US to see just how much people rely on it for personal requirements, as well as industry.
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    Desert Dawg Badawg's Avatar
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    At the Burning Man, salt intake is critically important to your health. Most people drink water all day long and they still get dehydrated due to the lack of salt due to all the sweating going on in 100plus heat, a scouring wind, and almost 0% Humidity.

    One of the best tricks out there for someone in dire straights that does not involve an IV is drinking Pickle juice... It's actually pretty good on a hot day iced with a little Vodka
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    But which takes the edge off of which? The pickle juice or the vodka?
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    In a survival situation salt water makes a good IV and sugar will help wounds heal. Not to mention they both taste good.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Badawg View Post
    .........salt intake is critically important to your health.
    I guess I'mm gonna' be pretty healthy today. I made up a small pot of beans with a pound of salt pork and a pound of bacon this morning. It's all gone. So's the iced tea.

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