The same weekend that I get sick and need to gargle salt water happens to be the same weekend that I run out of salt. I’m a bachelor so I don’t need to buy salt that often (once a year maybe) so naturally I went to the supermarket but little did I know that this was also the weekend that a certain little rumor was more than twittering across China (twitter’s band). It was rumbling. Rumor has it that salt is magical. That it can some how fight off nuclear radiation. The Chinese have swarmed the supermarkets and ravaged the salt supply ever since reports started stirring about the radiation leaks from the quake in neighboring Japan.

Some stores have been reprimanded for jacking up salt prices which normally hover around 1-2 RMB. Reports have shown that in the most common cases it is 5-10RMB and in the most extreme cases I’ve heard that it has skyrocketed to 80 to 100 RMB for one bag of salt. Other stores in the true communist fashion have decided to share by taking names down and limiting customers to only 2 or 3 containers per person.

There are two motivations behind the salt dash. One is salt’s supposed superpowers against nuclear waste and the other is the fear that nuclear waste will leak into the water supply and contaminate further supplies of salt.

There have been reports of family member who live in different cities phoning or QQ’ing their far away relatives and coaxing them into sending salt via packaged mail. For younger generations their have been reports of buyers going online to China’s equivalent to Ebay and purchasing salt online. Stores who run out of salt are bringing out stock piles of soy sauce trying to sell that as an alternative and surprisingly it is working.

Newspapers are NOT showing long lines of people waiting to purchase salt but rather large bulges of people wiggling, pivoting and elbowing their way to the cashier all while clutching tightly to their precious salt.

During this mad rush for salt no one has considered that the nuclear spill took place on the opposite coast of Japan and as any meteorologist will tell you that wind and water currents aren’t on their way to China but rather to the western coast of the Americas.

Despite the truth behind any of these claims it is a good day to be in the salt industry in China (government) and a bad day to be sick in China. I wonder if the Japanese, American’s or Canadians are scrambling for salt? Probably not.

The Chinese people are a massive tour de force and something as small as a salt rumor can empty shelves from Beijing to Guangzhou in a matter of hours and this is why the Chinese government is so very careful.