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In the approximately 300 salt gardens in Guérande, France, the farmers allow seawater to flood at high tide. The water passes through long channels and several basins, so that it becomes more and more concentrated and finally crystallizes in shallow evaporation pans. (Photo: © Mikel Landa / Landa-Ochandiano arquitectos)

In die etwa 300 Salzgärten im französischen Guérande lassen die Bauern bei Flut Meerwasser einströmen. Das Wasser durchläuft lange Kanäle und mehrere Becken, damit es sich immer mehr konzentriert und schließlich in flachen Verdunstungspfannen kristallisiert. (Foto: © Mikel Landa / Landa-Ochandiano arquitectos)

In the approximately 300 salt gardens in Guérande, France, the farmers allow seawater to flood at high tide. The water passes through long channels and several basins, so that it becomes more and more concentrated and finally crystallizes in shallow evaporation pans. (Photo: © Mikel Landa / Landa-Ochandiano arquitectos)

Salt not only gives the soup the right taste, but the mineral has also refined our cultural history with a hefty pinch. Politically, economically, even philosophically, the white gold shows its influence on humanity. Because humans need sodium chloride for survival. And the need makes you inventive. How much, as shown by the two photographers Mikel Landa and Luke Duggleby, who have documented the world-wide traditional craft of the salt farmers in a wonderful illustrated book.

Salt comes in two forms: as a crystal or dissolved in water. Crystal salt can be broken down as above ground, but to win salt from water, you need a sophisticated method. The strategies that people around the world have developed to extract salt from springs, lakes or the sea are clearly described by Landau and Duggleby in their pictures.

In Guérande in France, for example, the farmers have created extensive salt gardens with shallow basins connected by canals. Seawater slowly flows through them, causing the white mineral to gradually settle and become increasingly concentrated. Elsewhere, the water stores for days or weeks in salt pans and evaporates gradually until only the salt remains and can be harvested. Where the sun does not seem hot enough, hearths do the work of evaporation. Chinese or Thai farmers boil the brine in large kettles. And no less painstakingly are workers in Ethiopia and Bolivia digging for the crystalline mineral in salt deserts. With axes, they break up the crust to lift salt blocks from the ground.

Cultural trip to the salt

Mikel Landa and Luke Duggleby have traveled all five continents and photographed traditional salt farmers at work. With their pictures, they not only succeed in satisfying the technical curiosity, but also capture the essence of the farmers and their culture of life. The patient efforts of the salt miners or the efforts of the salt miners in the mine - Landa and Duggleby show the salt production up close, so that the viewer becomes a spectator.

The two photographers give a selection of pictures to each place, including a brief description of how salt is made there. The end of her book is followed by a series of essays written by experts who briefly explain the history of salt mining, its health, gastronomic and philosophical importance, as well as the geological evolution of salt. Together with the lovingly formulated and informative captions, they give this wonderful picture book the finishing touch. display

The book

Mikel Landa, Luke Duggleby
Salt of the earth
Mare, Hamburg 2015, 304 pages, 79, -

the authors

Mikel Landa (* 1965), a lecturer at the University of Navarre, is a specialist in the restoration of historic wooden buildings. He led a foundation for the maintenance of the millennial salt mines of A ana near Bilbao. Since the 1980s, he has also devoted himself to photography.
(Photo: Alazne Ochandiano)

Luke Duggleby (* 1977) studied photography in the UK. He lives in Bangkok. Several of his works are prize-winning.
(Photo: Luke Duggleby)
Science.de - Karin Schlott
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