The salt of the earth - Shawn Loughlin editorial
On a recent episode of Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy on CNN, which by now must be on the Mount Rushmore of television shows or movies that I mention too much in my writing, Tucci visited Tuscany and learned all about its famous saltless bread.
He describes the bread of the region, which is in central Italy, as being rather unpleasant. That’s because it’s made without salt. And as anyone who has made their own bread knows, salt is one of very few ingredients you need.
Why is it made without salt? When Tucci asks, he’s told that the story dates back almost 1,000 years to a trade dispute with neighbouring Pisa, a long-time (clearly) rival of Florence, the capital of Tuscany. The story goes that seaside Pisa withheld its salt from inland Florence, which led to the saltless bread recipe. Further research challenges that claim and it seems there are as many origin stories as there are people in the region, but the one told to Tucci is one of few to stand the test of time.
So, here we are, over 900 years later and Tucci is on television (an invention that came about more than a few years after the initial dispute) and he’s still eating bread without salt in it. No doubt, salt is readily available to all Italians by now, but they’ve kept making their bread that way. Why? Because it’s tradition.
Once people have learned to live without something for long enough, they figure there’s no need to change now. They adapt to the world around them. We see that in an evolutionary sense over millions of years and we see it every day before our very eyes. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this for many of us. We’re learning about things we now feel we can live without, while at the same time we’re realizing what we really need, because we’re missing it more than ever.
Why do I bring this up? Three words: Green’s Meat Market. I have been hesitant to add my voice to the chorus of those frustrated with how this beloved local business is being treated, but as a North Huron resident, it pains me to see what is happening between my home municipality and its closest neighbour.
I wrote a column late last year about the ongoing squabble between North Huron and Morris-Turnberry, but Green’s had yet to be made the shuttlecock being batted about by the two councils. Both claim moral support for the market, while neither provides actual support; the classic Catch 22 of ineptitude.
Not a week goes by without The Citizen receiving a letter to the editor regarding the situation. People are disgusted by the dispute and the politics at the heart of it – all while Green’s, a family-run business sits abandoned, having cries for help batted away by North Huron Council for one reason or another.
A hallmark of bad politics is leaving people to languish while blaming someone else. That’s where the perverted world of politics differs from the real world. Families have to make hard decisions every day to pay bills, feed children and get through the day. Telling Hydro One you can’t pay your bill because of a fight with your neighbour doesn’t clear the balance. Nor does a hungry child suddenly feel full if you tell her about your jerk of a co-worker. But the blame game is Politics 101.
Disputes like these aren’t akin to [urinating] in the wind. They impact other people. People are hurt, lives are changed and, in some cases, the course of history can be altered.
If the councils at the heart of this debate stood to lose for themselves, perhaps we’d see a speedy resolution, but because it’s a third party being squeezed in the vice, it will always be the other guy’s fault.